3. Making the case for the project
This stage involves getting sign-up from senior colleagues and senior management. Getting buy-in at senior level will significantly increase the prospect of success, so you need to produce a compelling argument to enlist people’s support.
For the project to be successful, you need to effectively promote the idea to staff at a number of levels. It is essential to get senior staff involved, including a budget-holder, who will need to lead from the top and open doors for you to work with staff teams. Talk to them about organisational aspirations around patient involvement, patient experience and multidisciplinary working, as this project will deliver across these agendas. Work with the senior leaders to identify the areas of focus. Try to pick an area in which staff members already recognise that change is needed, but one that is not so heavily shaped by wider factors that the challenges will be impossible to overcome.
Approach the staff within the service by talking to individuals to find out what motivates them, remembering that a team is not always a cohesive unit. Focus on ‘what’s in it for them’. If they see the project as threatening or time-consuming, this is the time to tackle these issues head on. They may worry about being criticised or exposed, or feel that patient demands could be unrealistic. Explain to staff that this positive approach can reveal a surprising level of commonality between staff and patients. Tap into their aspirations, their desire to be patient-centred and their need for inspiration.
- Emphasise that EBCD offers promise of change and has a strong emotional pull but also has a growing evidence base (see Section 2, Is experience-based co-design for you?).
- Use case studies from other projects to show how similar services have benefited from the approach.
- Emphasise that EBCD is a cutting-edge approach to addressing the quality agenda that will enhance both individual professionalism and departmental reputation.
- Demonstrate that EBCD generates patient stories that can be used extensively in service improvement, training and external communications.
- Keep objectives broad, such as ‘to improve the quality and experience of services’, as the specific focus will arise only during the course of the project.
- Make it clear that although this is a positive experience, teams must be prepared to accept the challenge of constructive criticism and rethink existing ways of working.
- EBCD does not have to be a stand-alone project: in fact, it is better if it is integrated with other work within the organisation – for example, as part of a wider strategy of quality improvement or patient involvement.
- You may like to find a catchy project title and publicise your project by displaying posters, sending out invitations, giving presentations and meeting individuals, as well as identifying influential team players who will enthuse their colleagues.
- Allow people to choose whether or not to join up. If individuals are forced to take part, they will not have the enthusiasm you need for the project to work. Not everybody involved in the service has to take part, but as some of the areas for change may relate to areas for which senior managers are responsible, it is extremely valuable to have them on board.