Hello my name is Kath Evans and I’m Head of Patient Experience at NHS England where I focus on improving Children and Young People’s experiences of care.

thumbnailI was chatting with Amy this week, a member of the NHS Youth forum  and I was blown away when she told me she chaired her multi-disciplinary meeting where her Consultants, Nurse Specialists and Allied Health Professionals all come together to work on her plan so that Amy’s health and wellbeing is supported in the best way possible. Imagine if all young people had this level of input into their care? Another young person shared that at the end of his consultation with his nurse specialist he takes a photo on his phone of his plan of action for his care, bits of paper get lost or washed in pockets of jeans so this works well for him!

Right across the NHS there’s good stuff happening, with 1.6 million staff interacting with 15 million under 20 year olds that are served by the NHS, yet we know that on many occasions young people give us a report comment of ‘could do better’ when it comes to communicating with them. The challenge is how…? Well asking young people is a pretty good place to start. Whether it’s using Hart’s ladder or the Children’s Commissioner work on participation there are different levels of participation with true co-production being the gold standard, yet we also know in emergency situations clear direction is perhaps most useful!

thumbnail-1The foundation of good participation in care either as an individual or collectively to influence the commissioning and delivery or services – needs great communication, we know the importance of ‘presence’ within consultations, I love the reminder of ‘whole body listening’ this poster gives us, ‘whole body listening’ is widely used in primary schools. Getting feedback from young people if we’re doing this can be really powerful, if we’re brave enough to seek it!

The ‘Me first’ model offers us the next phase in developing our communication strategies with young people; it offers us a structure and framework to guide us as we continue on our improvement journeys, yet it can be used flexibly too.
Considering how we’re demonstrating we’re listening; confirming the reason for the discussion from the outset; explaining choices; understanding what’s importance to the young person by digging a bit deeper; confirming collaborative decisions and next steps are all interventions that will help move our communications with children and young people from good to great.

thumbnailI hope you’ll enjoy challenging yourselves with the ‘Me first’ communication model. Couter (2011) highlights the benefits to clinical outcomes when we focus on improving experience with great communication, for example achieving personal commitment in care improves HBA1C levels (or blood sugar levels for those of us who aren’t Diabetic specialists ☺) and greater self-management in young people who have Diabetes. If we as healthcare professionals systematically challenge ourselves and work to improve children and young people’s experience of care we potentially improve the health not only of the current but also the future population. I mustn’t forget the vital role of children, young people and parents too, the ‘Me first’ model is valuable for us all, and this is about us all working together to make improvements.
Imagine if our report card comments from children and young people consistently said ‘Great communicator’ wouldn’t that be brilliant? Ok young people may not always want to chair their healthcare meetings like fabulous Amy but a few tweaks to our communication skills will make a big difference….

Kath Evans
Head of Patient Experience, Children, Young People and Maternity, NHS England
[email protected]

Helpful reading
Commissioning for better CYP Experiences http://patientexperiencenetwork.org/resources/report/Commissioning-for-an-improved-patient-experience-for-children-and-young-people-Final-Feb-2015.pdf
Building evidence base and examples for best practice in addressing CYP Experiences of care untaken system wide in 2013 http://patientexperiencenetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/PEN-Improving-PE-for-Children-Young-People-Report-FINAL-Electronic-file.pdf
Recognition of CYP Participation in improving experiences by awarding digital badges (Feb 2015) https://www.makewav.es/nhs
Toolkit for GP Services to engage young people in improving experiences http://www.youngpeopleshealth.org.uk/5/our-work/71/gp-champions-project/
CYP Integrated care narrative by National Voices and TLAP (March 2015) http://www.youngpeopleshealth.org.uk/5/our-work/71/gp-champions-project/
• Couter, A (2011) Engaging Patients in HealthCare McGraw Hill, Open University Press
Children and Young People’s Rights in HealthCare (2015) http://www.ncb.org.uk/areas-of-activity/health-and-well-being/health-and-social-care-unit/resources-and-publications