Background: Quality indicators exist for the acute and primary care sectors in the National Health Service (NHS), but until recently little attention has been given to measuring the quality of community services. The innovative project described in this paper attempted to address that gap.
Objectives: To produce a framework for developing quality indicators for Bristol Community Health services. To develop a set of initial indicators for Bristol Community Health services using the proposed framework.
Method: After familiarising ourselves with community services and NHS policy, gathering the views of stakeholders and consulting the literature on quality indicators, we designed a framework for indicator development, using the 'test' case of the district nursing service. The long list of possible indicators came from best practice guidelines for wound, diabetes and end of life care, the three conditions most commonly treated by district nurses. To narrow down this list we surveyed and held workshops with district nurses, interviewed service users by telephone and met with commissioners and senior community health managers.
Results: The final set of quality indicators for district nurses included 23 organisational and clinical process and outcome indicators and eight patient experience indicators. These indicators are now being piloted, together with two potential tools identified to capture patient reported outcomes.
Conclusion: Developing quality indicators for community services is time consuming and resource intensive. A range of skills are needed including clinical expertise, project management and skills in evidence-based medicine. The commitment and involvement of front-line professionals is crucial.