How it helps you

When patients, communities and our staff work together to improve services, everyone benefits. This is because:

1. It helps ensure that the real issues within services are understood

If you working in a service, it is likely you have a good understanding of the challenges that exist. It is highly likely, however, that those using the service will have a slightly different perspective. They will be able to help identify the key issues which impact on their experience, or clarify why something is a problem in the first place.

For example: The Pain Team recognised there was an issue with waiting times for their service. As a result, they set out to reduce the length of time it took people to receive a first outpatient appointment. However, after consultation with their users they realised that the real issue was the waiting time between appointments, so they re-focused on that instead.

2. It helps ensure that the solutions to any issue will work and are the right solutions

We regularly see brilliant ideas from our staff which have resulted in some significant changes. However, patients and others that use our services can also have excellent ideas around improvement we can make. It is important to come up with solutions that will work well for everyone, and this means it makes sense to involve everyone in what those changes might be.

For example: The Sexual Health team were concerned that that patients sometimes failed to attend their HIV clinic appointments.  Rather than trying to come up with solutions themselves, the team asked patients who failed to attend their appointments what it was that made it hard for them to come and what the service could do to help.  As a result, they were able to develop a text message appointment reminder system which has reduced the rate of patients not attending appointments.

3. It helps ensure we meet the real needs of those we are caring for

In the NHS we are very good at asking ‘what’s the matter with you?’ but not always so good at asking ‘what matters to you?’. When making changes to services, it is essential that we understand both, so that we can deliver care that meet the real needs of users.

For example: The Solent Vocational Rehabilitation service helps those with brain injury to get back to work. Together with their clients they have designed a goals related outcome measure to track progress against recovery goals that matter to them. The service and the clients now use this at every appointment to discuss progress and next steps.

4. It helps to ensure that changes made in services will be well received by those that use them

Sometimes we will be making changes for all the right reasons, but they might still be viewed negatively by those using a service for any number of reasons. To avoid that, it is good practice to involve people in changes that will impact them, so you can be clear how they might be perceived.

For example: The Central Case Management team wanted to change their Home Health Monitoring care plans to support greater patient involvement in care planning.  Staff worked with patients to identify a set of clinical and patient priorities.  These were incorporated into a new care plan template which was designed with patients.  This ensured patients valued the opportunity they had to be involved in their care planning and the process was made more accessible to them.

5. It often helps with recovery or rehabilitation

When people are involved in their own care, or in how the service is delivered to meet their care needs, it can help with the speed and extent of their recovery.

For example: A service user of our mental health services had completed her recovery and therapy programmes but felt she needed something to help her with on-going recovery. With the support of one of the team in the service, she created ‘pocket aids’. These are small booklets that can be carried around, to remind people of the tips from therapy programmes and their own strategies to stay well. These are now being offered to everyone that is going through similar therapy.

6. Using the experiences of others who’ve experienced similar conditions can help make a service more effective

In some Solent services, current or past patients are now part of supporting how that service is delivered. This means that those currently being treated can hear from people who’ve been through similar experiences – this can add to the credibility and effectiveness of a service.

For example: The Chronic Pain Service offer Pain Management Programmes to enable people to develop effective skills to self-manage their condition. This team work with past ‘graduates’ of this programme who act as peer mentors for those on or soon to complete the programme. They provide on-going peer support, including help with goal setting. This helps people to manage independently and gives them a network of people who understand their condition and have lived experience of it.