Involving People – a new way forward

Our Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality blogs about our progress on patient experience and involvement.



I’m Cathy and I’m the Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality at the Trust. I’m also the Trust’s director lead for patient experience and involvement and, for the last year, I’ve been working with a range of people on how we can improve this.

Cathy Woffendin Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality

Engagement with our service users, carers and the public on their experience of our services is at the centre of improving quality of care. Our Quality Strategic Plan describes this in more detail.

We know we do this well in pockets across the Trust, and this has been recognised by various people who’ve come in to either inspect or audit us in the past. However, we know we don’t do this consistently well across the Trust, and that’s something I’m looking to change.


What does involvement mean?

When we say involvement, we mean the way that service user experience is shared. It is about making sure that our services, activities and policies are shaped by the people best placed to know what works – our service users and those closest to them. They are experts by experience. This is important, because the more a service user is ‘involved’, the more likely they are to use their experience to improve our services and get better outcomes from their own care and treatment.

To get a better understanding of where we were as a Trust, last year I commissioned an external review to report back on:

  • the current ways service users and carers share their experiences;
  • the Trust’s current processes for involving service users, carers and members of the public;
  • the resources and support we give to involving service users; and
  • recommendations on how all these things could be improved.

We received a very comprehensive report back earlier this year. In line with our value of keeping it simple we drafted a summary version – read it here.

Valuing the inclusion of people

Following on from the report, we wanted to test its findings with a range of people, including service users and carers. We wanted to find out what was important to them and what good looks like in terms of involvement.

So we held an event on 22 March and got some useful feedback. You can read a summary of this here.

Alternatively here’s a short video we made at the event . . .

It was a really helpful day and we came away with a number of key themes that people felt were important to them, which included:

  • Valuing and listening to carers, and learning and acting on their feedback;
  • Improving communications about involvement opportunities, including the use of digital communications and social media; and
  • Developing an overall involvement and engagement model.


Where are we now?

We’ve come up with a plan together of how we want to take this forward.

The first step was to create a steering group to oversee our approach to public involvement and the development of our involvement strategy. This steering group met for the first time on 30 April.

We had a really good and challenging debate about what our approach should be. We also spent the first 20 minutes talking about our use of language. For example, do we talk about patients, service users, or simply, people? I don’t think we quite got to the bottom of that one!

We agreed to form three sub groups to get into the detail and do the work on the ground. These are:

  1. A public involvement sub group – to be chaired by Cath Hill, our Associate Director for Corporate Governance
  2. A patient experience sub group – to be chaired by Nichola Sanderson, our Deputy Director of Nursing
  3. A carers sub group – chaired by Linda Rose, our Head of Nursing


Now, we need your help!

We need people to get involved in these sub groups to help us shape what our priorities should be and help us make it all happen.

If this is something that appeals to you and you feel you’re able to give up some of your time to help us improve our involvement work, we’d love to hear from you.

Our Patient Experience Team is currently collecting the details of anyone interested in this. You can contact them on 0113 8556759 or email to register your interest or find out more.

I’m looking forward to working with you all to make some positive changes together and seeing the results of these in practice.

Find out more about Cathy Woffendin.