8. Provide coaching support

Coaching for quality improvement involves a range of activities to help CQI teams understand and apply quality improvement methodology. Coaching is done by a quality improvement expert with specialized skills who may be from the district management team, an implementing partner, another part of the facility, or from a different facility with more CQI experience. A quality improvement coach typically offers on-site technical assistance related to the practical application of quality improvement knowledge and tools.

Activities involved in coaching include:

  • Building trust and understanding the context in which a facility/team operates
  • Forming a CQI team and establishing a positive team climate
  • Measuring performance using established standards and assessment tools
  • Helping the team identify and analyze service gaps and challenges and prioritize them for improvement
  • Supporting the development of action plans and identification of responsibilities for carrying out the plans
  • Introducing and demonstrating tools for documenting changes tested and results from tested changes
  • Sharing successful change ideas that other sites have identified
  • Advocating for resolution of larger system issues, such as supply chain or waste disposal
  • Transferring knowledge and skills for implementing and sustaining quality improvement

The ASSIST teams in Uganda and South Africa created general coaching guides for VMMC CQI coaches (downloadable below).

Training in CQI is also important for coaches, who need basic CQI training as well as additional training in the use of coaching and data analysis tools. The ASSIST website also offers several short training modules on approaches to supporting teams. HEALTHQUAL International has also produced a useful guide for implementing coaching strategies to spread QI knowledge and skills in low- and middle-income countries.

Why coaching is important for CQI teams: Coaching facilitates the acquisition of skills, equipping facilities/teams/individuals with knowledge to evaluate the performance of their processes and systems and to design and implement interventions to improve and sustain health service quality and patient safety.