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This 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”. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf
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, http://coalitionforcollaborativecare.org.uk
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.
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.”