‘With’ not ‘for’: In a new world of integrated health and care systems

March 21, 2018

Six months ago I started working with a group of people on the Isle of Wight. Following success of the Empowering Engagement Programme in Hampshire, NHS England were keen to see the programme delivered on the Island. Working with Sue Newell from Wessex Voices and Joanna Smith from Healthwatch Isle of Wight we tweaked the programme to be delivered to a system wide group.

Sponsored by the Isle of Wight’s transformation programme the group consisted of, Cath Love, Head of Quality for the CCG, Joanne Case, Head of Service Improvement working across NHS partners, Bev Fryer, Operations Manager Acute and Crisis MH Service, Anita Rodwell, Market Development Officer for the Isle of Wight Council, Charlotte Price, Living Well Manager hosted by AgeUK, Gerard Murray, Operational Manager fot the Isle of White Ambulance Service and Dr Ian Harwoood, Consultant for Learning Disabilities . Working with this diverse group over the 6 months meant a real opportunity to work in a truly integrated way to develop a a movement for change as catalysts within the system, able to influence colleagues and stakeholders at every turn.

The programme is structured so that we meet once a month for six months. The mornings are focused sessions on a specific topic, with external facilitators coming in to work with the group. A chance to really understand the dynamic of patient engagement, to get to grips with the difference between patients and the public, experience and engagement, tokenism and true co-production as well as exploring methods and approaches, engagement through the context of change, personal styles and skills and how to be a leader of change with new ideas and concepts.

The afternoons are run as an action learning set and it is here that the group works on a live project throughout the six month programme. Arriving on day one with a fairly good idea of what their project was and with an expectation for a ‘PPI training course’, the group began to realise that empowering engagement is not about ‘training’ or ‘PPI”. But a way of thinking and being that puts people at the heart of everything that needs to be done. The group have formed a powerful network that has agreed to continue to meet and work together. I believe they have the opportunity to lead the change that will see patients, carers, service users and the public as equal partners in the process of transforming services.

I couldn’t have asked to work with a more wonderful group of people. Each an every one approached the programme with commitment and integrity. Being open to challenge and new ideas, but most importantly being willing to change and adapt their thinking. Ultimately connecting with a simple personal value that is about being a part of a system that cares and that puts people first above all else.

On the last day of the programme we hold a showcase event, a chance for the group to celebrate their work, to tell people about their projects, to get more people involved and to spread the word about engagement as a core principle to good health and care. Last night on the Isle of Wight the event was attended by a broad and diverse group of people from people who are patients and users of services who want to get involved to make a difference to those in very senior roles across the Island. We also welcomed Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England. This mix of people made the event was a true celebration. A vibrant energy was felt across the room as people came together through a shared understanding and commitment to work with not for patients and the public.

Charlotte Price, Living Well Manager, talked to one of her clients about the programme and her ideas. Mrs Gill produced the following poem that sums it up nicely:

– You promised to care

From cradle to grave.

– When I needed you most,

I had to be brave.

– But now as I age,

It’s famine or feast.

– Although you have been there

In my hours of need

– One of the problems was

How do I feed?

– I’m older and frailer now,

And my needs are many.

– Sometimes I have problems

Just spending a penny

– My hair has gone from brown to grey,

Doesn’t mean I don’t have a say.

– My lines and wrinkles age me too,

But my eyes still twinkle, as yours do.

– I am still a person inside this body,

Even though it’s now a bit shoddy.

– I have an option on treatment I get,

My voice and thoughts can be a real asset.

– If you want to hear from me just take time and listen.

Together we can make changes happen.

– So please don’t treat me as another statistic.

Use my name not a number or I go ballistic.

By L. Gibb

You can view information about each of the projects by clicking here.

For more information on the Empowering Engagement Programme or to see how you might be able to run it in your area please get in touch.

Thanks to everyone for their continued commitment to taking this powerful and important programme forward.



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