Voices for Improvement

Valuing Lived Experience and Strategic Co-production

In July 2021 we secured further funding from the Health Foundation Q Community to test a new approach to strengthen collaboration between people with Lived Experience and decision-makers in health and social care. This builds on the exploration into what works well to promote productive relationships, improve insight and influence carried out by our advisory group between May 2020 and February 2021.  Members have experience of shaping services at a strategic level.

Rachel Matthews, Head of Experience at National Voices and Associate Lived Experience Leader Keymn Whervin have co-designed and developed a prototype programme of coaching and mentoring, which will bring mutual benefit to those with Lived and Learned Experience and improve health and social care. We know that people with Lived Experience bring important insight to the design and delivery of care, and understand how resources can be directed for better value. However, they do not often get the opportunity to work alongside system leaders to support improvement.

Voices for Improvement, a National Voices project in partnership with Q Community, offers Lived Experience Partners the opportunity to provide coaching and mentoring to those in senior positions in health and care. Through 1 to 1 coaching in action learning groups, Lived Experience Partner participants are trained to bring their perspective and insights to support leaders to develop their personal and organisational practice. In May 2022, Janssen awarded National Voices a grant to further develop and support the organisation's work on strategic co-production.

We really believe that this has the potential to help to enact meaningful change through strategic co-production.

Watch the recording of the 9 February event, Valuing Lived Experience - Learning with National Voices here.

Read our Learning Report and Summary Report here.

What's changed at National Voices?

Connecting a community of practice and learning

We are working with a small number of community partners and National Voices member organisations to start small scale testing of how to make the connections and invite prospective Lived Experience Partners to learn coaching and mentoring skills and to bring Lived Experience to the heart of decision-making.  Between October 2021 and February 2022, we are testing roles and learning and development opportunities. We are delighted to be working with the Co-Production Collective who are contracted as our Learning Partner to help capture what we what we do and how we do it. In our webinar event on 9 February 2022, we shared our findings.

Relationships and opportunities to influence – coaching and mentoring

The ambition for Voices for Improvement is to build respectful relationships through which insight, knowledge and experience can be shared and used to improve health and social care. We know from our exploratory work that across our membership there are many well-established schemes to elevate Lived Experience and provide opportunities to influence and shape services. At National Voices we want to connect, learn and grow a community of Lived Experience Partners with coaching and mentoring skills who can take an active role to influence policy and decision makers. We particularly want to open opportunities for people in communities that are marginalised or overlooked.

Lived Experience Leadership and Strategic Co-production

The Voices for Improvement advisory group remain connected. Two members have evolved their roles with National Voices and have joined the team as Associates. Keymn Whervin is Co-production Manager and shares a leadership role with Rachel Matthews (Head of Experience). Together they are promoting and modelling the benefits of shared leadership. Their work together and with partners is underpinned by the principles of co-production. Both Keymn and Rachel have extensive experience of working with people in different settings from strategy to community.

Supporting and influencing trustee recruitment

An independent panel of people with Lived Experience co-designed, led and chaired interviews for the Appointed Trustee roles in October 2021. Helen Hassell Chair, Pauline Kenton-Batt and Marlon Patrice supported an important stage of the selection process making recommendations to the nominations committee.

What’s the story behind Voices for Improvement?

In 2019 we secured funding from the Health Foundation Q Community to explore how collaboration with patients could be strengthened and how the experience of patients could be made more central to improvement efforts in health care.

What happened?

Working with a diverse advisory group which included members with Lived Experience we co-designed activities to explore where collaboration is done well and identify practice features and characteristics that make it meaningful.

What were the main findings?

We propose a fresh perspective and the opportunity to reset the relational foundation from which respectful practice and greater impact will thrive.

We have learned from our desktop research, conversations and co-design events, that renewed effort is required to tackle underlying and unaddressed issues of diversity, inclusion, race, power and paternalism. These issues are central to authentic efforts to embed collaboration between different people, teams, organisations and sectors. These are uncomfortable ‘live’ issues, amplified and further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We propose a refined mechanism by which people with experience of living with ill health, impairment or disability, including carers and existing Patient Leaders, can actively contribute to and lead change, improvement and influencing initiatives. The mechanism will be supported by an experienced, credible leadership and operational team actively seeking sustainable revenue to mitigate the risks of past initiatives where growth, reach and impact were limited by resource and operational constraints.

What was it like to work together?

"I’m excited to see the potential of an emerging credible network for passionate voices about user involvement - and one which will importantly be practically useful for those working in improvement efforts. I think this is where the gap has been historically - that of credibility and of practical use."
Rachel Killick (Advisory Group member)

"Working in a flexible way means that more people can be included, and we just need to adjust to people’s needs. Be open and honest about what we can and cannot do. Do not take it for granted that people will know what you’ve developed…. they need to come on the journey too!"
Keymn Whervin (Advisory Group and Associate Lived Experience Leader)

"Trust the process of coproduction even if it seems uncomfortable at first. Don’t be afraid to focus on very basic questions. Stay alive to issues such as a power, relationships, communication, values."  Charlotte Augst (CEO, National Voices)

"An important learning for me is in codesign, there are many aspects of progress you can’t anticipate and understanding where the ‘edges’ are can help provide a sense of safety in which the emergent work can flourish so for example how and who will make decisions and when? What’s out of scope and off limits?"
Rachel Matthews (Head of Experience, National Voices)