Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE)
Good environments matter. Every NHS patient should be cared for with compassion and dignity in a clean, safe environment. Where standards fall short, they should be able to draw it to the attention of managers and hold the service to account. PLACE assessments will provide motivation for improvement by providing a clear message, directly from patients, about how the environment or services might be enhanced.
April 2013 saw the introduction of PLACE, which is the system for assessing the quality of the patient environment, replacing the old Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) inspections. The assessments primarily apply to hospitals and hospices providing NHS-funded care in both the NHS and private/independent sectors but others are also encouraged and helped to participate in the programme.
The assessments involve local people (known as Patient Assessors) going into hospitals as part of teams to assess how the environment supports the provision of clinical care, assessing such things as privacy and dignity, food, cleanliness and general building maintenance and, more recently, the extent to which the environment is able to support the care of those with dementia. From 2016 the assessment will also look as aspects of the environment in relation to those with disabilities.
Recruitment and training of Patient Assessors is the responsibility of those organisations undertaking assessments.
The assessments take place every year, and results are published to help drive improvements in the care environment. The results show how hospitals are performing both nationally and in relation to other hospitals providing similar services.
It should be noted however that the assessment focuses exclusively on the environment in which care is delivered and does not cover clinical care provision or how well staff are doing their job.
PLACE assessment forms and supporting guidance documents
The PLACE assessment forms and supporting guidance documents are available to download below. These will enable those undertaking assessments to prepare themselves and to provide local training to patient and staff assessors. The documents include both the assessment forms and a variety of guidance material on recruiting and training patient assessors. They also include local training materials and guidance for anyone wishing to become a patient assessor.
The collection and supporting assessment documents have been approved by the Standardisation Committee on Care Information (SCCI) - SCCI2085)
Want to be a patient assessor?
The assessments give patients and the public a voice that can be in the drive to give people more influence over the way their local health and care services are run and in the way in which they are held to account.
Assessment teams are a collaboration between staff and patient assessors, with Patient Assessors making up at least 50 per cent of the assessment team. Anyone who uses the service can be a Patient Assessor, including current patients, their family and visitors, carers, patient advocates or patient council members. NHS Foundation Trust Governors can also be Patient Assessors.
Staff working in a hospital cannot undertake assessments there as Patient Assessors, though they are able to act as Patient Assessors at hospitals in other NHS Trusts or elsewhere. Similarly those who have recently left employment in a hospital/Trust should not return as a Patient Assessor until a suitable period (normally two years) has elapsed.
If you are interested in becoming a patient assessor, please contact your local Healthwatch group or your local NHS Trust's Volunteer Coordinator.