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Health, social care & voluntary sector staff
Advice, support and information
Who is this section aimed at?
What is Public Involvement?
Shaping the process of involvement
What do you hope to find out from the public?
Gathering people's views
Choosing participation tools
How might you share your findings?
A busy cardiac rehabilitation service had been meaning to rewrite its information leaflet for several years. The staff were very busy and it was one of those jobs they never quite got around to. The current leaflet was out of date and poorly designed and photocopied until it was really tired looking.
Several patients had noticed this, had mentioned it to staff. The staff explained how busy they were so the patients decided to offer help.
What was done about it
A group of patients having coffee after their rehabilitation class got chatting about it. They spoke to other patients, drafted up some words to put in the leaflet and tested this out with new referrals. Once the wording was seen as correct, one of the patient's sons, designed the leaflet (he was a design student). The staff were involved as the process went along but didn’t have to devote much time to this. The end result was a new leaflet that was modern and fresh but most importantly told patients what they needed to know before they came along and it was written in a way that patients could easily understand.
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Lack of accessible self management information and support in hospital receptions.
A local health improvement team wanted to have information and support within hospital reception areas and thereby encourage self management and healthy lifestyles.
What was done about it
A group of patients were recruited (by advertising in the outpatient areas) and then trained to carry out this promotion of self management and healthy lifestyles to other patients.
All the patients involved lived with various long term conditions and were in a very strong position to share tips, encourage self management as well as explain conditions/symptoms to others in day to day language.
An unexpected spin off
Although not the original aim, the volunteer patients also tended to pick up issues about the hospital services – such as when things didn’t quite work for the patient.
Following Voices Scotland VOICES and COSMIC training these volunteer patients were then able to feed back these issues to the hospital and other services in an constructive manner.
Anyone who runs a specific service for the public be it part of the voluntary sector, NHS or social services. This might be staff in charge of services such as a ward, outpatient department, community support service, day service etc. You may be wishing to review how your service is seen by those who you support and/or you might be considering a change to the service.
Simply it is about asking, listening and including people who use (or might use) the service but doing that in a way that ensures people feel they have an equal part in the process and will be (in some way) involved/informed about the outcome.
It is important to realise the difference between Public Involvement and complaints and the different pathways.
Individual patient complaints should be signposted to the local complaints procedure and /or to the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) run by the local Citizen's Advice Bureau.
There is also the option for people to feedback their experiences, good and bad via the Patient Opinion website.
You might want to think about recruiting some members of the public to shape the process of your involvement. Local Public involvement forums or Managed Clinical Network (MCN) public involvement groups are ideal for this sort of work.
The Scottish Health Council has local officers working in each NHS Board who are there to support public involvement.
There are also designated Public Involvement staff embedded within your local NHS who can advise you.
The key things to consider are:
Individual staff consultations with patients:
It is important to realise that every interaction provides an opportunity for involvement. Questions like "How are we doing?, What could we be doing better?" can be raised in conversation with patients and carers as appropriate. Patients may often make suggestions in the course of their conversations as they come through your service. It is important to take note of these suggestions and feed them back to the appropriate person to consider and act upon.
Download our public involvement tool for front line staff "How are we doing? (PDF). You may adapt this for your own use in your particular service.
If patients are wanting to make a complaint that is different and the appropriate local procedure should be followed and as previously mentioned they can also be signposted to the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) run by the local Citizen's Advice Bureau.
For more formal public involvement locally:
You need to think what you want to ask them about and how.
Here are some sources of tools to gather people's views:
An example of a simple tool is this Public involvement tool for front line staff: How are we doing?(PDF) leaflet that you can adapt for your service. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for more adaptations of this tool.
One tool of particular interest that is used within Voices Scotland are the Emotional Touchpoints. This was originally developed by the Leadership in Compassionate Care Project. This is a qualitative method of learning about the patient, family or staff experience. It is used to help staff recognise and celebrate positive care practices and develop the service. Touchpoints refer to important stages or events in their care.
The tools and techniques you select will depend on whether your aim is to involve people in shaping local services or as partners in decisions about their own treatment and care. Visit the Scottish Health Council's matrix of participation tools which matches different tools to different types of participation.
Little things make a big difference: Valuing People is a website for frontline NHS staff through the Knowledge Network.
This website has been designed to act as a gateway for NHS Scotland staff to access resources which support the delivery of person-centred care. The site supports both rapid access to key documents and also deeper exploration of resources and current literature. It has been designed to enable quick access to resources to support continuous professional development, and to use as a resource with patients and carers.
Make sure you are clear about how you are going to share your findings before you start the work. Who would you like to share the results with and in what detail?
Here are some ideas:
You may gather information which requires to be sent on to other departments or services, locally or nationally, for consideration and action. Even though you personally may not be able to influence certain issues, your responsibility is to pass it on to those who can.
Seeking feedback is central to service improvement in both health and social care. The benefits of feedback include:
Visit the Scottish Health Council's web page on feeding back.
View the Picker Institute's "Using patient feedback"