Exploring user empowerment and service improvement within an Irish epilepsy service using Checkland's ‘Soft Systems’ approach

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Abstract

Aim: To illustrate the value of Checkland's ‘Soft Systems’ approach to explore and analyse the interaction of human and organisational factors that affect service delivery and patient experience in one specialist epilepsy service. Background: Checkland's approach is underutilized in relation to health service improvement. One epilepsy service in Ireland is used as an example to illustrate the value of his approach to improve service delivery, particularly when what needs to change is not clear. Method: Checkland's ‘Soft Systems’ seven-stage approach was used collaboratively to explore patients' and clinicians' experience of service delivery and how to improve it. Results: The research identified the practice of empowerment affected the quality of the service experience. Checkland's concept of a human activity system was particularly pertinent in identifying this issue and providing a ‘map’ for change. Conclusion: Wider inferences for the use of Checkland's approach by nurse managers are discussed, as is the value of using Checkland's approach to improve services. Implications for Nursing Management: Checkland's ‘Soft Systems’ is an underutilized approach in health care that could be used by managers to initiate and embed change within a health care service.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-854
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Checkland's seven-stage soft systems methodology
  • empowerment
  • epilepsy services
  • human activity system
  • service improvement

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