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Patient and Public Engagement: Good Practice in Kent

August 1, 2016

‘How can we work better together to engage with our patients and public in Kent? Let’s get together and work it out’, was a series of three events that we organised and facilitated with Healthwatch Kent earlier this summer.

The nursery rhyme about the girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead always springs to mind when we talk about patient and public engagement – when it’s good it’s very very good and when it’s bad it’s horrid! The aim of the events was to have fun and be inspired! To work together with colleagues across Kent and to consider how we can work better together to engage with our patients and public more effectively. The events were a combination of networking, learning, sharing and identifying gaps.

People told us what good quality engagement looks like:

▶    Honesty about what is ‘on the table’ and what is not – work in a spirit of mutual trust

▶    Equality of power and openness to change – engaging before you know the answers

▶    Clear purpose and objectives for why people are being engaged

▶    Approached with enthusiasm

▶    A range of people to provide different voices, experience and perspectives

▶    Use plain English not ‘NHS-speak’ and jargon

▶    Planning and communication together to shape engagement methods and approaches

▶    Be innovative, creative and have fun!

▶    Horses for courses – tailor methods to suit the need and the audience

▶    Start at the beginning – working on ideas together to inform delivery plans

▶    Build enough time in and be flexible to allow for proper engagement to take place

▶    Work with front-line staff, focus on a common purpose – improvement for patients

▶    Build relationships, see people as individuals, recognise the value of every viewpoint

▶    Ensure GP and clinical engagement and genuine buy-in from the top of the organisations

▶    The results of engagement turned in to action and feedback

▶    An insight and evidence based approach

▶    Prepared to acknowledge mistakes

▶    Recognise the real financial value of investing in patient and public engagement

“For me the event provided some protected ‘headspace’ to reflect on this agenda – but importantly how we can tap into other colleagues’ experiences of engagement in the future.”

“I enjoyed the debate about what involvement actually means. The challenge is making it happen.”

“Fun, cross-organisation participants. Great discussion. If we link together and share it will be even better. ”

Healthwatch Kent are in the process of creating a supporting guide for engagement to go along with their existing Consultation Guide and those who came along were all keen to become part of an informal Kent wide network.

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