Voices for improvement

In collaboration with the Health Foundation Q Community

In 2020, the Q Community and National Voices are collaborating on a design project aimed at developing stronger mechanisms for connecting and supporting service users and patients involved in improvement. This work will surface and connect current learning, practice, and people in this area across the UK and Ireland and co-develop ideas for convening and boosting impact.

Many people who use health and care services have an ambition, based on their experience, to improve the design and delivery of health and care and there is consensus that designing effective and sustainable solutions requires working collaboratively.

How is the work progressing?

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everybody. We moved to online and to homeworking from March. Our work was temporarily delayed due to Rachel (Programme Manager) being stranded overseas in April because of pandemic border restrictions. However, since May, the work has accelerated.

Advisory Group

The advisory group was appointed in April/May and convened for the first time in June. You can read about the members here. The group have met 5 times over the summer and are supporting the desktop research investigation and preparation for co-design events in October and November. They are contributing important reflections about the direction and ambition of this work.

Desktop research

During the pandemic, the nature of authentic collaboration and partnership have become even more important. National Voices rapidly collected insights from people directly affected by the pandemic through ‘Our Covid Voices’. These stories often share experiences where people would like to contribute more directly to decision-making about their care and treatment but find it difficult to do so or find barriers in their way.

This is especially true for people who are underrepresented in existing mechanisms for example in governance and scrutiny. These include for example people living with a disability, those who are homeless and people from Black Asian Minority Ethnic communities. Whilst none of this is particularly new, there is encouraging practice from organisations for example, Groundswell, Youth Access and Mind who are embedding roles, structures and mechanisms that are more reflective and inclusive of where people are at and what they need to participate in services and improvement.

Co-design events – learning about what works and how to do more of it

In October and November, we are holding interactive online workshops with members from National Voices, Q Community, and the Rosamund Snow Community to deepen our understanding of what we can learn from organisations that are getting it right. The findings from these workshops will inform what options we think should be further developed.

Like all co-design processes, it is difficult to predict the shape of a future collaboration. But we will be exploring how to:

  • Create a diverse and inclusive community of people who want to improve health and care based on their experiences as service users or carers

  • Add value to the work National Voices members and other stakeholders do in this space, rather than duplicating or competing with them

  • Listen to the needs and ambitions of diverse people who use services, with a focus on how unequal such experiences can be

Next steps

We are extending the work to February 2021 so there is more time to seek different perspectives and views.

September - November

  1. Build connections and bring people together to co-design ideas

  2. Investigate promising ideas in depth

  3. Identify partnership opportunities

 December - February

  1. Consolidate our shared learning

  2. Investigate the resources and infrastructure required for sustainability

  3. Co-design a proposal to build on better practice

  4. Propose partnerships to sustain and spread better practice

Project team

Rachel Matthews is Programme Manager and leads the work.

Ella Wright, works with Rachel to support the project.

The advisory group provide insight and direction for the duration of the award.

Would you like to know more?

If you think you or your organisation can share practice and you would like to learn with us, do get in touch. We are looking for people and organisations who act inclusively, have fresh ideas and who are excited by the long-term vision. If you would like to find out more, please email rachel.matthews@nationalvoices.org.uk or call 020 3176 0738.