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Consumer-clinician programme first-of-its-kind

Case Study

posted by WM Admin on 28 June 2012

The Health Quality & Safety Commission has recently instigated a programme thought to be the first-of-its-kind.

Consumers and clinicians have paired up to take part in the eight-month programme – part of the Partners in Care initiative – designed to provide teams of two with the knowledge and skills to lead a consumer engagement project within a health and disability organisation.

The programme has been adapted from the National Health Service Institute's Experience-Based Design programme, which uses patient and staff experience to design better health care services.

Last month 33 teams of two attended workshops in Auckland and Wellington run by Lynne Maher, Director for Innovation and Design at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement in the UK. The workshops focused on consumer engagement and participation through quality improvement.

Commission Principal Advisor Quality Improvement Gillian Bohm says having an equal consumer-clinician relationship was a key focus of the workshop, and for the web-based sessions that will be held with participants throughout the programme.

'Where this differs from other consumer engagement learning programmes is that a consumer and a clinician work as a team on the project of their choice.

'The project must have the support of senior management and clinical leaders in a health and disability service organisation. The consumer and clinician will preferably have access to people with experience in working with quality improvement tools and methodologies.'

Annie Ualesi and Siobhan Patia say they found the workshop very valuable. Mrs Ualesi is Acting Programme Manager of the National Pacific Tobacco Control Service, Tala Pasifika, and the focus of the shared project with Miss Patia is to engage Pacific young people in tobacco control advocacy.

It's been a great shared learning experience and we're building a group of people who can support each other, even though our programmes may be very different."

Miss Patia, the 'consumer voice' of the team, is studying for conjoint law and arts degrees, with a focus on public health. The two knew each other but haven't worked together before.

Mrs Ualesi says the workshop and ongoing webinars, where participants can ask questions, discuss issues and share their successes as their programmes progress, is a good format.

'It's been a great shared learning experience and we're building a group of people who can support each other, even though our programmes may be very different.'

She says she found learning at the workshop about different ways to gather community views very helpful, particularly asking people to share their personal experiences of health services on video, which can be shared with decision makers, and questionnaires which reflect the emotions users of the service experience.

'Focusing on the emotions they express is a way to bring more of the human element into decision making.'

She says this was clearly illustrated by one of the workshop's case studies. It discussed how the number of falls in the toilet of a stroke ward was dramatically reduced by putting toilet roll holders on both sides of the toilet.

'They hadn't realised until they had conversations with the patients that people were falling because it was difficult for them to reach the toilet paper when it was on the side that had been affected by their stroke. There's often a really simple fix to a problem.'

Miss Patia says she's very thankful to be offered the opportunity to be involved in the programme while she's still a student. 'I really enjoy the frontline work and seeing how policies actually work when they make their way into the community.'

She says she could see early on in the workshop how the programme's methods could be applied to many different areas of her work in the future. 'I like the collective nature of it, which is also a good fit for our culture.'

Teams must produce a report at the end of the programme that summarises their project, including the measures used, the results achieved, and the changes that have occurred because of it.

Miss Patia says she's pleased about the need to report back. 'It's one thing to put programmes in the community, but it's another for people to want to take them up, change their behaviour and reach those goals.'