A man gently pushing a woman in a hospital bed

How can EFM teams put empowerment at the heart of patient care?

Published on : 10/25/23
Reading time : 5 min
  • 76% of patients feel a sense of empowerment leads to a better hospital experience [1], according to a recent YouGov and Sodexo Health & Care survey. Research also indicates that a positive patient mindset can enhance recovery rates [2], which in turn can improve patient flow to ease the workload on Trust staff. However, 36% of patients currently don't feel in control during their hospital visits [1].

    Militsa Pribetich-Gill, Sodexo's Head of Product Innovation, emphasises the role of EFM teams in enhancing patient empowerment through technology, innovative design, diversity reflection, and sustainability. 

    So how can NHS EFM capitalise on opportunities to better empower their patients? Read on to find out.

    What can you do to empower patients across estate design?

    How are your spaces encouraging patients to improve their recovery?

    Research underscores the importance of patient activity.  

    Merely getting out of bed can amplify muscle strength3, improve circulation4, and elevate mental health5, potentially hastening recovery.  

    By creating flexible communal areas in wards, EFM can motivate patients to rise, interact, and mirror healthy eating habits, further promoting recovery6.

    You could ask yourself: 

    • Are our current ward layouts optimised for flexibility and adaptability? 
    • How can we better use communal spaces to encourage patient mobility and interaction? 
    • How can we encourage patients to interact with each other to support their recovery? 


    Is your building design striking the right balance between efficient patient flow and a comforting experience?

    Modern hospital designs are evolving to be more intelligent, prioritising patient flow and task-driven processes.  

    Designs like the single corridor plan where patient rooms, treatment areas and other essential spaces are organised along a main walkway improve navigation, travel distance and cost due to the reduce number of interior walls7

    However, they can feel tunnel-like. So by considering the use of warm wall colours, natural light, art and decor, natural flooring, curtain partitions and noise reducing furniture, your estate can be made to feel more homely for patients.

    You could ask: 

    • How can we blend design elements to ensure both operational efficiency and comfort for patients and staff? 
    • What specific design innovations can we introduce to ensure our spaces are not just modern, but also centred around the well-being of both patients and staff? 


    What can you do to give patients a sense of empowerment?

    How are you integrating patient feedback into FM and services?

    Online surveys have transformed how we collect patient feedback on facilities management, but they can be retrospective and might not capture current patients' views across all demographics8.  

    Using Patient Ambassadors to directly interact with patients can highlight immediate concerns, like a malfunctioning shower, shaping their overall experience. Listening to their stories in real time informs quality improvement and enhances staff training.

    You could think about: 

    • Are we effectively capturing and acting upon patient feedback regarding our facilities? 
    • How can we diversify our feedback mechanisms to be inclusive of all patient demographics? 
    • How are we harnessing the power of patient narratives to guide our practices and enhance staff training? 


    How are you tailoring services to the diverse needs of our patients?

    Acute Trusts across the UK serve unique demographics, making it crucial to ensure facilities and services cater to diverse needs.  

    EFM teams can address this by doing things like creating menus that respect patients' cultures, introducing digital welcome guides tailored for each individual, understanding nuances in language, tone, directness, and temperament for respectful and relatable communication, and enriching teams with members reflecting the diverse backgrounds of patients.

    It's essential to equip staff with the tools and knowledge for effective and empathetic interaction, so you could ask:  

    • Do our current services and facilities genuinely mirror the rich diversity of the communities we serve, and are our staff equipped to navigate these nuances? 
    • How can we delve deeper into the unique cultural intricacies of our patient demographic, providing our staff with more comprehensive training? 
    • Are there collaboration opportunities with community leaders or groups that could both enhance our services and provide our staff with a richer understanding of the diverse needs they encounter daily? 


    How are you personalising meal options for patients?

    While traditional meal timings set around ward routine and medical teams have their place, your meal planning should reflect the diverse needs and cultures of your patients. 

    For example, if a patient has had a bad night, they may not want their breakfast first thing in the morning. Whereas another may have a craving for a particular comfort food. 

    You could consider new initiatives, such as:

    • Room-service style ordering services: These allow patients to choose what they eat and when, ensuring more patients eat well more of the time. 
    • Patient concierge services: These can include personalised offerings like 'curry night', which can uplift the spirits of longer-stay patients while streamlining the meal service process, reducing the workload and stress on staff. 
    • 24/7 access to hot food: Sometimes people just fancy something warm and comforting, so by allowing patients and staff access to hot food from your Trust’s retail options, you give more opportunities to improve access to nutritious meals. 


    Is technology a help or hindrance for improved patient empowerment?

    How can you support patients to use new technology?

    It's essential to remember that while technology is advancing, many patients might approach it with caution. Our EFM teams play a pivotal role in bridging this gap, guiding patients towards embracing these changes. 

    Transparency is paramount. When our tasks involve using mobile devices, it's crucial to communicate the purpose to our patients. This ensures they don't feel sidelined or overlooked. 

    Clarity in roles is also essential, and uniforms play a critical role in this as evidenced by the NHS’ ‘National Uniform’ policy8. By clearly distinguishing uniforms, patients can easily identify and approach the right person for their questions, ensuring a seamless, supportive experience. 

    You could ask yourself: 

    • How can we educate patients about the digital tools and platforms we use, ensuring clarity and transparency? 

    • How can we ensure clarity over the roles and responsibilities of our team for patients?


    Is there space for increasing patient empowerment within your net zero & sustainability drives?

    Are you managing heightened awareness of sustainable practices?

    As healthcare providers, it's your responsibility to ensure that your sustainable initiatives resonate with patient comfort and well-being.

    You could think about the following:

    • Sustainable menu options: Is your Trust offering plant-based menus and introducing sustainable meat alternatives, like venison and pulses? 
    • Food portion control: Patients will notice if there’s a lot of food waste after each meal, so how can your Trust more closely monitor leftovers? 
    • LED lighting: LEDs are more environmentally friendly than halogen bulbs, so can you estate switch to using them in more places? 
    • Reusable packaging: While the necessity of disposable packaging in infection control is undeniable, patients will notice eco-friendly alternatives that don't compromise on hygiene. Can your Trust do more to reuse single-use plastics? 


    Do you need support to improve patient empowerment?

    A nurse providing assistance to an elderly woman seated in a wheelchair.By harnessing the power of design, understanding patient demographics, leveraging technology, and championing sustainability, EFM teams have the potential to redefine quality of care for patients. 

    As we move forward, the goal is clear: to create an environment where every patient feels valued, heard, and above all, empowered. However, you may need support to achieve your aims. 

    The Government Sourcing Playbook suggests outsourcing could be a way for the NHS to meet its long-term goals9

    "Organisations, such as Sodexo, have skills, resources, scale, and we need to use those”10.  

    With outsourcing support from Sodexo, you could create an EFM department that empowers its patients and staff alike for the continued success of your Trust. 


    Recommended for you:


      1. YouGov. (2023) Patient experience survey commissioned by Sodexo Health & Care UK & Ireland [Survey].* 
      2. Shashkevich, A. (2023) Patient mindset matters in healing and deserves more study, experts say. Stanford, Stanford Medicine. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/03/health-care-providers-should-harness-power-of-mindsets.html 
      3. Health Hub. (2023) Discover the Benefits of Getting out of Bed While in Hospital. Singapore, Ministry of Health Singapore. https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1365/why-bed-rest-often-isnt-best 
      4. Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Aebersold M, Gonzalez L. Exercise and ambulation. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2017:chap 13. 
      5. The National Council on Aging. (2023) Tips for Recovering After Being Hospitalized With Acute Illness. Arlington, The National Council on Aging. https://www.ncoa.org/article/tips-for-recovering-after-being-hospitalized-with-acute-illness 
      6. Hong, LB. (2023) How to Eat Well for Post-Surgery Recovery. Singapore, Mount Elizabeth. https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/health-plus/article/best-foods-post-surgery-diet 
      7. Liu, Z. (2023) An introduction to surgery departmental layout model based on design guidelines. Singapore, Hospital Management Asia. https://www.hospitalmanagementasia.com/tech-innovation/an-introduction-to-surgery-departmental-layout-model-based-on-design-guidelines/ 
      8. Church, E. (2023) Colours unveiled for national NHS uniform in England. London, Nursing Times. https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/colours-unveiled-for-national-nhs-uniform-in-england-27-09-2023/ 
      9. HM Government (2023). The Sourcing Playbook. London, HM Government. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1163766/Sourcing_Playbook_Final.pdf 
      10. Sodexo Health & Care UK & Ireland. (2023) The future of the NHS Estates and Facilities workforce - Part 1: Interview with Fiona Daly [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbev_3-BAwg&t=7s 

      *All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2174 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th - 25th August 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).