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Involving patients in many ways - the way forward

In last year’s blog for Coproduction week 2021, I talked about the value and importance of building relationships with patients, people and communities to co-produce ongoing improvements to care. Relationships between clinicians, leaders and patients are fundamental to the principles of coproduction. These principles are equality, diversity, accessibility, and reciprocity.

Across Solent NHS Trust we have examples of how strong reciprocal relationships and co-produced services have led to high quality care. These include people with learning disabilities participating in the staff recruitment process, and also in a ‘quality checkers’ group; a Parent Voice Group supporting change in Child and Family Services; and peer support workers in a pain management programme. Within our team, we’ve recently worked alongside the charity Re:Minds, our Side-by-Side group and some clinical leads, to co-produce a toolkit for involving service users in our NHS recruitment process. This gives information and ‘tools’ on the why, what and how to involve patients and people when we try to attract an appoint new staff. We’ve seen first hand the positive difference this makes to all those involved, the service and the people appointed.

Co-production is about working together as equal partners, using each other’s experience and knowledge in a reciprocal way to improve health and care. I feel the way forward is to look more broadly and consider the many ways patients and people can get involved. Working together in this way “creates solutions that neither of the partners could have done on their own”- 100 Stories of coproduction.

Having a range of people actively involved in many ways could help us focus on what is important and what really makes a difference to patients. Could it be a constant reminder on what is important and the direction of change? Opening up these different opportunities would increase visibility and create an environment where patients and people are not just involved in specific projects. We see it not as a singular event, around one area or activity but a more general way of working; where patients and people have the opportunity and support to be involved in many different ways.

The evidence and impact of co-production is clear and there is support, training and resources to help you get started. We suggest you start with a project or an area to improve through co-production, but then think beyond this and develop many ways and opportunities patients, people and communities can be a contributing part of services, rather than just a consumer of them.

If you'd like to find out more about working alongside patients and people to improve our services, please email: involvement@solent.nhs.uk

About the author

I am the Head of People Participation for the Academy of Research and Improvement.

I am a physiotherapist and worked across community services and specialised in the field of neurology. I have an interest in personalised care and how services work alongside people on ‘what matter to them’.

In 2015, I completed a Trainee Consultant Practitioner in Neurological Rehabilitation secondment through Health Education England - Wessex. This programme developed my knowledge, skills and confidence in the areas of clinical expertise, leadership, service improvement and education. During this secondment my passion for quality improvement grew and I have led projects on improving positioning of the stroke arm; specialist Parkinson nurse demand and capacity and understanding the benefit of vocational rehabilitation through co-production. This has led to awards and recognition for my improvement projects.

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