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Person Centred Care and coproduction – the ‘get real’ factor.

expo2015This year I’m attending EXPO 2015 as a member of the People’s Panel which is a group of people who are patients or carers and who have lived experience in learning to deal with their own Long Term Conditions or as a carer, and who have also become expert in navigating the sometimes complex world of health and social care.

The fact that the planning for EXPO has included patients and carers is demonstrating the drive and commitment of NHS England and the Five Year Forward View to develop “..a more engaged relationship with patients, carers and citizens so that we can promote wellbeing and prevent ill-health”.

This new relationship will be exemplified by members of the People’s Panel to show how working together, or coproduction, can happen in practice between patients, carers, and organisations and hopefully usefully bring a ‘reality check’ to the many conversations and debates that will take place over two days.

Working together or true coproduction is not as easy as it sounds in reality. Often I have found myself being used for a consultation or engagement event where I know that nothing I say will change anything and all that is really required by the organisation is an endorsement so that they can ‘tick’ the patient/carer/public engagement box.

That kind of exercise is so short-sighted as no one really gets anything positive from it- the organisation doesn’t get the insight they need to be really effective and for me, as a patient expert, all I’m left with if a feeling of frustration, having had my time and limited energy wasted.

I’m pleased to say my experience with EXPO15 and the Coalition for Collaborative Care,

where I am a coproduction member, has been positively different. Specifically in the planning of the event:

  • Patient/carer views were listened to seriously, discussed and acted upon;
  • Proactive advice and suggestions were welcomed;
  • Patient/carers were valued as equal members of the planning team.

Equally I have respect for the professionals who have key roles in planning such a high profile, national event with tight deadlines, a zero budget and small team. This is indeed evidence of developing better ways of true partnership and really working together from design to implementation.

It has been said that this year’s EXPO 2015 “..will be challenging, and will deal in reality not theory”. As a person who has Long Term Conditions I deal with the reality of that every day which includes chronic pain, limitations in mobility and lack of stamina on the negative side but also includes positive insight into personal resilience, into health and social care organisations and how simple changes could make big difference to people’s lives.

So I’m really looking forward to taking part in the two days in Manchester, my home city, on 2 and 3 September and particularly working in partnership with other members of the People’s Panel, the Coalition for Collaborative Care and the people I meet.

I’m looking forward to listening, learning and hopefully influencing too so that I can feel I have made a positive difference in the drive to ensure that true partnership working becomes embedded across health and social care so that person centred care can become a reality for everyone.

In other words the ‘get real’ factor – hope it helps.

Social Media and healthcare conversations-it’s personal.

Social Media and healthcare conversations – it’s personal.

Before Christmas I was sharing my experience of using Social Media with NHS Lay Member colleagues at a network meeting in Manchester.


(a href=””>Infographic vector designed by Freepik</a>)

Now I’m no communication expert, just an enthusiastic amateur, but fortunately at the meeting I did have a fellow colleague, George Wright, Digital Communications Manager at North West Commissioning Support Unit (NWCSU) who is, and who set the scene about how the use of Social Media and specifically Twitter has developed in the NHS.

George talked about how the NHS use of Twitter includes campaigns, information and engagement but that there has been a noticeable shift for many in healthcare to move from ‘broadcast to conversation’ and from organisations to individuals. A similar theme echoed in the title of Euan Semple’s book Organisations Don’t Tweet, People do. which makes for some useful reading.

My motivation and experience with Social Media was initially fuelled by a desire to keep up with my niece and nephew having been allowed to view their Facebook accounts. Having mastered that as an enthusiastic Internet user I was then curious to see what Twitter was about and gradually moved from re-tweeting to tweeting things myself to share with others.

My interests were largely based, but not exclusively, on healthcare, education and literature. Soon the penny dropped as I realised that Twitter was a global conversation opportunity that I could join in, meet new people, learn new things from and enjoy company with at any time of the day or night.

Conversations on Twitter about healthcare are usually driven by personal experience but as the NHS is such an enormous, complexity of organisations it can sometimes appear faceless which is odd as healthcare like most public services, is personal.

When it comes down to it if at anytime a person gets sick or injured it is an intense personal experience and could be the first time that person has needed any professional help.

Whoever you need to see for help whether that is a GP, nurse or Consultant it is a person, and a conversation will follow as to what happened, what the problem is and what might be the options to fix it or alleviate symptoms – person to person.

So it seems to me to make great sense for individuals who work in the NHS to actively use Social media not just as an additional tool to engage with people but to demonstrate that the NHS is about people first and foremost – a message that can sometimes get lost in pressured times.

Twitter has no boundaries or hierarchies, which I think is a good thing and very different from most NHS organisations, and is demonstrated if you ever get involved in a healthcare Tweetchat.

I joined in my first health Tweetchat last year in one run by the excellent and founded by the then Agency nurse Teresa Chinn @AgencyNurse who you may have heard has been awarded an MBE in the recent New Years Honours list – Congratulations Teresa!


In my first Tweetchat there were 126 participants from around the world discussing Collaboration in commissioning. There were staff from NHS organisations, nurses, doctors, patients, Voluntary sector, private sector, other public sector organisations and members of the public all engaged in a frank exchange of views and ideas some of which is reflected in the word cloud below.

wecomserswc collaboration

I would encourage anyone working in healthcare and particularly in the NHS to try out Twitter, if they haven’t already, and to join in a conversation or two.

I have met some amazing and interesting people and learned about what they are thinking and doing to make a positive difference in health and social care. Twitter has enabled these conversations and I enjoy taking part as an individual who happens to work and volunteer part time in the NHS and who is an active patient too.

Here’s a tiny snapshot of some of the people I’ve met through Twitter who are making a difference in health and social care.

  • NHS England Project Manager Clare Helm @ClareHelm2 & supporter of @WeCommissioners along with David Foord @DGFoord, Dr Jonathan Griffiths @DrJonGriffths, Val Bayliss-Brideaux @Val_BB
  • Dr Alys Cole-King @AlysColeKing who works so compassionately and positively in suicide prevention through
  • Gill Phillips @Whoseshoes the inspirational developer of Whose shoes game used in dementia care and in the challenges of creating genuine personalised care support for people
  • Helen Bevan @helenbevan Chief Transformation Officer NHSIQ founder of the The Edge, hub for change activist in heath & care
  • Dr Kate Granger @GrangerKate founder of the inspirational #hellomynameis campaign
  • David Gilbert @DavidGilbert43 and Mark Doughty @Patient Leaders Co-Directors’ & founders of Patient Leaders

Teresa Chinn MBE RN said in her Blog, Jan 2015 ( ) that:

‘We should never underestimate the significance of starting a conversation that matters..’

And healthcare conversations are personal because they’re between and about people wherever they take place and can, and do, make a difference – even on Twitter.


Further information about using Social Media can be found at:

Semple, Euan. Organizations don’t Tweet people do.- A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web. A John Wiley & Sons Ltd Publication 2012

or contact George Wright, Digital Communications/Corporate Manager at NHS North West Commissioning Support Unit (NWCSU) or @georgewright19

Making a difference?

The NHS, most public services and indeed many other organisations are living through and undergoing change of one sort or another, which is largely driven by financial, political, social or technological needs.

In the speech that Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, made on April 1 said:

“Today we face new challenges, and will need new solutions – while holding on to the vital gains of the past.”

It is not surprising to note how frequently the words ‘innovation’ and ‘different’ are used in the media and elsewhere with the expectation that doing something new or different will make a positive difference in work that needs to be done.

In the same speech Simon Stevens went on to say;

“ … I agree with MIT’s Eric Brynholfsson and Andy McAfee that, ‘the best way to accelerate progress is to increase our capacity to test out new combinations of ideas.’ Inevitably some of them won’t work out, and there’ll be criticism and honest disagreement along the way.”

 Now I know Simon Stevens was thinking about large strategic, systems-led solutions but even those start with one person having an idea, sharing it, debating it and testing it out before anything happens.

One of the strategies being used by Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit (GMCSU) is through the work of a newly appointed Innovation Advocate, to encourage colleagues from anywhere in the organisation to think of different ways of doing or improving things. Or to come up with something completely new that will add value to the work of the organisation or its customers.

An innovation hub is being established at GMCSU so that all ideas can be considered, discussed and may be progressed and implemented – quickly if a simple idea, or if more complex, a business case may need to be developed before the idea is submitted for approval.

So how do you make sure that individual ideas are heard and used in your organisation? Do you have specific strategies to enable this to happen or particular times or events that encourage ideas to flow? Or is it as simple as really listening to a colleague as you work together and take further any ideas that arise?

I think it is worth reflecting in any organisation, and particularly now in the NHS, about how individuals are enabled to voice and share ideas and views on doing things differently or trying something new.

On a smaller, individual scale I do believe we can all make a difference in how we interact and react with each other, the public and anyone we come into contact with professionally or personally.

I started working in the public service of education, driven by the desire to make a difference to others. I’m now working part-time in the NHS with GMCSU as a Business Advisor/Lay member and that same desire drives me.

This drive is something I have seen from the many people I have worked with over the years in different public, voluntary and some private organisations and it is clearly apparent in the work of my current GMCSU colleagues who are making a difference directly and indirectly to the lives of others.

If you ever doubt your individual power to make a difference consider this quote by American, Christine Todd Whitman:

Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”

And to end on a more positive note a quote by John F Kennedy

One person can make a difference and every person should try.”

make-a-difference image