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Patient & public engagement – putting learning into practice

Sarah Moore Dorset Care Record 11 July 2019

Sarah Moore, Engagement Officer at Dorset Care Record, recently attended a bespoke version of our Foundations in Patient Experience course, entitled ‘Foundations in Engagement’. 60 people participated in the training and Sarah writes about how she’ll be using what she learned to engage people to improve health and care services across Dorset.


As Dorset Care Record’s (DCR) Engagement Officer, I was really pleased to get a place on the Foundations in Engagement programme, hosted by Our Dorset and run by the Point of Care Foundation.

There was a real buzz in the room as people from across the Our Dorset partnership spoke about the public and patient engagement work within their organisations. Bev Fitzsimons, from the Point of Care Foundation, summed up exactly why we were here when she said: “Every other industry has the service user in mind when developing a service or a product – we should be the same”.

We heard from Ceinwen Giles who has set up a small national charity called Shine, after having been diagnosed with cancer at a young age and six weeks after giving birth. Shine provides information and support for young adults with cancer and is specifically tailored to this age group. Ceinwen explained that it’s not always best to organise cancer support groups by type of cancer, but by organising by age you can consider common experiences like dating after cancer, alternative routes to parenthood and getting back to previous levels of fitness. We at DCR are specifically tailoring digital support for cancer follow-up patients through Digital Dorset, so there are lessons we can learn here about tailoring for groups of individuals.

Every other industry has the service user in mind when developing a service or a product – we should be the same.

On day two our guest speaker was Julia Crawshaw, who spoke passionately about heading up the ‘New Beginnings’ project at St George’s Hospital in London. By interviewing women about their experiences of caesarean section births, their experiences can provide vital feedback. Small and inexpensive changes can make all the difference: having a picture to gaze at on the theatre ceiling, changing the position of staff in theatre so that baby gets handed to mum quicker and tying the hospital gown as a halter neck so that mum can move her arms more easily! We are in the process of testing a maternity pathway and as part of this will be working with expectant mums to blog their journey, as a way of capturing their views and experiences.

As well as hearing from the speakers, over the course of the two days we were set group work to look at engagement techniques and stakeholder mapping and apply them to our chosen projects. It was useful to share ideas and some really stood out:

We mapped with post-it notes the emotional hotspots of a care interaction we have all experienced – booking an appointment with a GP. You can then group the notes into ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ to see which point needs most attention. Another idea to use when view seeking is to be really clear up front about which parts of your project are ‘non-negotiable’ and which are ‘up for grabs’. You can even use these headings when collating feedback in a group setting. We will be designing some communication materials, including leaflets around both the maternity and cancer follow-up pathway, in conjunction with service users, and new ideas such as these will help us collate feedback in a group setting.

At the end of day one, we were asked to put our own feedback about the course – positive and areas to improve – on post it notes. This was collated and where possible implemented on day two. The Point of Care Foundation certainly do put their theories into practice.

This blog was originally published on the Dorset Care Record website.

Find out more about our Foundations in Patient Experience course, which we can tailor to focus on specific areas of interest, such as patient and public involvement and engagement, advanced facilitation skills and patient-focused improvement methods.