Why quality improvement matters

The Quest cohort program is our continuous quality improvement initiative for child and youth mental health and addictions agenciesIt is intended for agencies that receive funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health to deliver CYMHA services. 

In this program, teams from agencies benefit from quality improvement (QI) capacity-building opportunities through training and the application of the Lean Six Sigma QI methodologyThe goals of the Quest cohort program are to coach agencies and provide them with tools to make improvements to a process or a care pathway and to embed a QI culture on their team.  

What is our Quest cohort program?

Our Quest cohort 4 applications are now closed and the new cohort will be starting in June! Click here to read our previous cohorts' project summaries.

Here are some answers to common questions about the program: 

Why make process improvements? 

QI is a systematic approach using robust tools and techniques to make changes and improve outcomes for the client, family, service provider or system. Frameworks such as Lean Six Sigma enable us to take a collaborative and methodical approach to examine organizational processes in detail, and optimize and ensure value for stakeholders, including children, young people, families, and service providers.  

QI projects may include clinical issues, such as intake, waitlists, discharge and integrated services between care providers (primary care, educational settings, hospitals and community mental health centres). They may also include more internal-facing issues related to finances, human resources or other administrative processes that impact the services agencies deliver to their clients. 

Some examples include:  

  • An agency receives feedback from their clients and staff that their intake process is confusing and difficult to navigate. The agency would like to streamline their processes and increase efficiencies.  

  • Data from an agency reveals clients remain in brief services for more than two years instead of being discharged or transferred as intended.  

  • Staff who travel to see clients note that it takes a considerable amount of time to sort through the process of submitting travel documentation to finance, for reimbursements. 

  • The human resource (HR) department has noticed a high turnover rate over the years and finds it challenging to recruit qualified candidates. The team would like to improve their overall processes and culture to retain staff and recruit efficiently and effectively.  

  • An agency struggles to meet their direct service hour targets and does not understand how these targets were set. They set out to increase their understanding of what goes into all clinician hours so they can set achievable targets and facilitate staff meeting these targets. 

What makes a good process improvement project?  

Some examples include:  

  • Issues/opportunities within an organization that impact clients, families or staff. 

  • An existing process issue that doesn’t have an identified solution or an optimization opportunity that needs to be explored.  

  • Process challenges such as repeat errors, duplication of work, excess waiting or the capacity of the process to meet the demands.  

  • Links to the dimensions of quality in healthcare: effective, efficient, client-centred, safe, timely and equitable.   

How does the program help agencies make process improvements?

The Quest program coaches agency teams through an improvement project with potential organizational or system-level impact. By participating in Quest, child and youth mental health and addictions agencies will make improvements following a facilitated Lean Six Sigma methodology, while building organizational capacity for quality improvement (QI) and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.   

What can I expect from the program?

Those selected to participate in Quest will: 

  • Receive tailored, team-based coaching in QI and the use of data by our Lean Six Sigma coaches. 

  • Receive Lean Six Sigma White and Yellow Belt training and certification for the core team members of their project team.  

  • Participate in cohort-wide knowledge mobilization and learning events. 

  • Have their agency’s QI culture assessed through an Ontario Public Health adapted QI maturity toolat the start of the project (June 2024), and optionally at the end of the project (June 2025) and one-year after (June 2026).  

What coaching supports will I get?

Beginning in June 2024 project teams will be coached through an improvement project following the DMAIC framework for 6 or 12 months, and may receive support to focus on sustainability, spread and scale, knowledge mobilization and organizational quality planning as required. 

Our QI coaching team will: 

  • Work alongside your project lead to guide your team through a QI project using the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC framework (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control). 

  • Support your team lead to plan and facilitate core team meetings. 

  • Support core team members to participate in QI activities by planning and facilitating virtual or in-person (as appropriate) capacity-building sessions within each of the stages of DMAIC. 

  • Document the improvement process through electronic project workbooks with key documents and tools. 

  • Coach on indicator and measure selection, data collection and analysis with additional support as needed.  

  • Deliver introductory QI sessions for the core team, including Lean Six Sigma White Belt training as needed. 

  • Provide guidance to capture the voice of customer insight through engagement activities (gathering knowledge and experiences from key stakeholders, including clients, familiescaregivers and staff on the QI project). 

  • Provide the option to be coached on building a culture of continuous quality improvementincluding further QI training based on your agencys QI maturity assessment results.