WOW community blog drafted by Sarah Best –

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The Me first project aims to put children and young people at the centre of the conversations about their health and healthcare.

Children and young people say that good communication is more than eye contact or body language. It is about involving them in choices and decisions, drawing on their experience and expertise about their own health, and enabling them to feel in control of their healthcare.

“Decisions should be made with us, not about us, no matter how big or small, because they are about our bodies and our lives.”

We know this is important for people of all ages, but this is a particular challenge for children and young people, who say that all too often that:
•Communication is between healthcare staff and their parents
•Their involvement in healthcare conversations is often limited to non-health related issues and they are less involved in discussions about treatment or making choices and decisions.
•They are not asked how things should happen
•Adults use complex language that they struggle to understand
•If they are assertive, knowledgeable, or ask questions then this is often misread as them being difficult or challenging

Co-developed with children, young people, and healthcare professionals, the Me First project has developed a new range of training and online resources to improve communication between children, young people and healthcare professionals.

The Me first communication model provides a practical framework to support children and young people centred conversations in healthcare. Based on a review of the research on person centred communication, we believe this is one of the first healthcare communication models of its kind, designed for and with children and young people.

The Me first website contains an interactive communication model to enable healthcare professionals to build their own conversations and apply the model to their practice; a resource hub, which enables users to share tools, projects, and ideas from throughout the UK; and practical advice and tips from children, young people, and healthcare professionals about how to put the model into practice.

The Me first masterclasses, which are co-delivered with young people and support healthcare professionals to apply the Me first communication model to their practice. The training builds on attendees’ existing skills and expertise, and utilises quality improvement techniques to enable healthcare staff to embed learning in their clinical practice. The masterclasses have been incredibly well received, with 100% of participants rating the training as good or excellent and the emerging findings from the independent evaluation showing the training is making a lasting difference to participants’’ communication skills.

“It’s good to be equipped with small manageable changes that can make a big difference to a child’s journey.” Health care professional

“The day was engaging and creative, with a mix of different activities and time for reflection. We not only learnt the principles of child & young person centred communication, but how to apply them within our own specialities and practices. A rare and much needed course, I would highly recommend this to any professional working with children and young people.” Health care professional

The project will also soon be recruiting a network of Me first communication champions to promote and embed children and young people centred communication within their teams and services