Gathering people's views
Before you represent an issue in your public involvement work you must be clear that you are either representing:
your own views
the views of others.
Working with others
You may be part of a support or special interest group that has developed because of a specific condition or common interest. The main aims of your group may be mutual support and/or information sharing. But although you are sure to get support from your group, don’t forget that your main purpose is to represent the views of service representatives.
With their permission, you can gather the views of other service users within the group in your role as a user representative. But remember people attend a support group for support, so gather their views but don’t enforce your own.
Your main job as a representative on a committee is to provide the patient or carer perspective in a discussion or decision-making process. This may mean drawing on your own experiences, those of a relative or friend or the views and experiences of a wider network of people e.g. other members of a patient, carer or community group.
To have any real influence, you need the confidence to challenge conventional opinion if it seems to you to be misguided or incorrect. You can help your case by supplementing your personal experience with additional evidence. This may be research evidence about the most effective type of treatment or evidence gathered from people about their recent personal experiences of using health and social care services.Back to top
Methods for gathering people’s views
There are formal and informal methods for gathering views and the choice of method will depend on what you are trying to find out.
Informal methods include:
- discussions with members of a carers or support group
- listening to the views and experiences of members of your local support group
- reading accounts of other people’s experiences in newsletters, magazines and correspondence
- keeping a diary of your own thoughts and feelings about your experience as someone who uses the service.
This will provide you with qualitative data, i.e. information from a small number of people about their views and experience that cannot be quantified. Quantitative research is done on a larger scale so that the results can be analysed to provide numbers and percentages.
- Read how to use Emotional Touchpoints
- View the video series on how to use Emotional Touchpoints “Valuing Feedback”
- Download the Emotional Touchpoints cards, “Envision Cards” from NES (images and words)
- Download the Emotional Touchpoints with symbols and words from Voices Scotland (PDF) Cut and create your own pack of Emotional Touchpoints cards useful for all but particularly for those with communication support needs.
- Invite to members of any group to select an emotion from the cards laid out that is an answer to the following question
- Ask members to pick a card based on “what emotion stands out for you about the care and support you have experienced for your long term conditions?” – adapt this question for any work you are trying to gather information about and for peoples condition
- Invite to participants to say in word or phrase about what the emotion is and what was behind that emotion when they chose it? Gather these views and their associated emotions to feedback in your public involvement work.
These visual Emotional Touchpoints are adapted from a tool originally developed by the Leadership in Compassionate Care Project from Napier University.Back to top
Formal methods include:
- questionnaires / telephone surveys
- telephone interviews
- focus groups
- case studies
- patient diaries
- social media groups
Public involvement options include:
- patient panels
- public meetings
- citizens’ juries
- open surgeries
- stakeholder events
Don’t feel obliged to gather all the people’s views yourself. It may be better to suggest that the committee or group should initiate a project to gather people’s views. This information can then be used to test or complement the ideas that you’ve brought to the group.
There are a number of ways you can make contact with people in your area as well to hear their views and learn about their experiences. You could:
- Contact CHSS community groups to find out what local support groups meet in your area
- Contact different voluntary organisations to find out what groups meet in your area. The Health and Social Care Alliance has contact with a large membership of voluntary organisations.
- Ask your GP surgery to have a suggestion box for ways to improve services
- Contact us to use the Voices Scotland newsletter to reach people affected by chest, heart or stroke.