At Strule Veterinary Services we are committed to providing high standards of care for all animals, and that is why we have worked hard to achieve accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Practice Standards Scheme.
The PSS seemed like an insurmountable task when it was first presented to us. The list of do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations and SOPs to create was overwhelming. Then we were introduced to Stanley (the online PSS system) and boy was he scary! We had such a huge mountain to climb and no idea where to start. At the bottom of the mountain, we discovered that we had an army of support from multiple members of the CVS team behind us – and that gave us hope. We knew they were rooting for us.
After attending a practice standards meeting and welcoming people to the practice to look around and advise us, we made a ‘to do’ list. It had approximately 120 items on it, from fixing the pot holes in the car park and painting the entire building, inside and out, to smaller jobs like putting up health and safety posters and room thermometers.
The first issue we focused on was our medicines. We needed to introduce a completely different way of doing things. Not only our vets, but our clients would have to abide by new rules. Weekly staff meetings and daily communications meant that slowly but surely the team climbed on board and started to see the benefits of what we were doing.
Many times it was difficult and frustrating. There were so many changes and it took daily reminders over many months to form new habits and kick the bad ones. Dating bottles, controlled drugs registers, lab test registers, temperature registers, data sheets, cascade sheets, weekly audits, cytotoxic protocols, etc. Our dispensary had a complete overhaul, as did our mind-sets.
Every now and then we ticked a task off our ‘to do’ list, but there remained so much to do. We came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t achieve Core Standards this time around but at least we would be given a list of what to focus on.
Month after month we continued making a sterling effort. As the painter worked room by room restoring a fresh look we could feel the atmosphere slowly changing to one of determination and possibility.
We saw our vets come in weekly, downloading their car dataloggers, dropping off visit pads, picking up new ones and carrying their lone worker devices. We took pleasure in doing surprise spot checks on cars and announcing who had won.
October was fast approaching, our car park was fixed, the sand arena restored, banners erected, over 50 SOPs written. Finally the health and safety books were completed!
Scary Stanley was tackled and conquered. He actually proved to be very helpful as each and every tick box turned gold and we could see exactly what was left to do. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that we fulfilled quite a lot of the General Practice Standards, but Core Standards was what we were aiming for.
The day of the assessment finally arrived. The assessor, Bob Lehner, had allocated an entire day to us, booking his flight for the next morning as he thought we were obviously going to prove very challenging. He arrived 20 minutes early but we were there waiting, flowers in reception, floors mopped, windows shining and 120 tasks ticked off of our to do list. Doughnuts and coffee were on hand as we waded through our PSS folder and completed tours of both practices.
And then it was over. Bob was done and dusted by 1.30pm, his only concern being that his flight home wasn’t until the next day!
Imagine our delight when we received confirmation that we had achieved Core Standards in small animal and General Practice Standards in farm and equine. Had we really done it? Each and every staff member, CVS support and single minded determination had done it. We had achieved what we thought was unachievable. We had proved that Strule Vets work hard, with integrity and determination. PSS helped us see that THIS is a practice to be proud of.