Having been the overall winner at the 2015 Patient Experience Network National Awards (PENNA) as well as winning the Personalisation of Care category and coming runner up in the Communicating Effectively category, Me first were invited to give the Key Note address at the 2016 awards. I would like to share our experience of the day, and tell you about some of the inspirational projects we heard about during the ceremony.
But firstly some information about why good communication and patient inclusion are important.
According to NHS England: ‘Experience of care, clinical effectiveness and patient safety together make the three key components of quality in the NHS. Good care is linked to positive outcomes for the patient and is also associated with high levels of staff satisfaction.’ 
With increasing pressure on health and care services in recent years, delivering a positive care experience can feel like an uphill struggle. However, evidence shows that ‘poor experiences generally lead to higher costs as patients may have poorer outcomes, require longer stays or be admitted for further treatment.'
As such, care providers have begun to recognise the value of patient experience and there are now specific organisations and teams dedicated to this focus. The Patient Experience Network (PEN) is an independent, ‘not-for-profit’ membership based network. Their aim is ‘to provide a valuable, practical resource/service for all healthcare organisations wishing to improve the patient experience.' A key emphasis of the network is learning from each other and sharing best practice.
The PEN National Awards commend those teams who are leading the way in patient experience. On 21st March my Me first colleague Rachel and I got on the train to Birmingham for the awards which took place at the Repertory Theatre.
The eye-catching building looked particularly dazzling against the bright blue sky we were greeted with! We arrived bright and early, super excited to see the great work our fellow NHS teams were doing.
Each nominated team were given their own exhibition stand and before the official proceedings began, everyone was free to wander around and check out all the different stands. We successfully flagged down a passer-by to take a photo of us with our stand…
Then to kick off the proceedings there were some great speeches. Yvonne Newbold, who is the World Health Innovation Summit Ambassador for Learning for Disability, Autism & Families and won the Outstanding Contribution award, gave an emotionally stirring speech about the effect both positive and negative experiences of care have had on her and her family. Yvonne spoke of the importance of healthcare professionals bringing their ‘heart and soul’ into a consultation in order to connect with those they are treating. Hearing from Yvonne really drove home the emotional impact that care experience can have on patients and their families.
The welcome speeches were followed by the announcement of winners and presentation of awards. Each nominated team also got the chance to present to the audience about their project. We heard so many inspiring stories from teams going the extra mile for their patients and were particularly thrilled to see how many projects were specifically focused on children and young people. We got teary eyed hearing about the Beads of Courage project which was this year’s Personalisation of Care winner and runner up in the Continuity of Care category. The team at the Cambridgeshire Community Services brought the Beads of Courage programme to the UK from America where it was developed in paediatric Oncology units. Each child with a long complex and life limiting illness is given a collection of beads – each being a visual representation of each intervention the child has undergone during their treatment. In the team’s own words: ‘The beads provide them with a unique approach to personalising care by working in partnership with children and young people and their families, enabling them to understand and talk about the impact of their condition and treatment on their daily life.’ We thought this was a really lovely project with a simple yet powerful message.
Other child and young person-specific awards included the NHS Go app by Healthy London Partnership which won the ‘Championing the Public’ award and was a finalist in the Innovative Use of Technology and Social Media category. This fab mobile app enables young people to access trusted information about a variety of health and lifestyle issues like sex and relationships, healthy eating, depression, and lots more. We know young people don’t always feel comfortable asking about sensitive issues face to face and there can be a lot of unreliable information on the web so it’s great to have a reliable source of advice for young people which they can access confidentially.
Leeds Children’s Hospital TV won the ‘Access to Information & Innovative Use of Technology/Social Media category. This hospital TV channel broadcasts films which are made both professionally and by patients in order to introduce each ward and staff, show common procedures, patient stories and provide feedback in a child and young person-friendly way. As they describe it themselves ‘A 21st Century approach to Information Giving’. It’s great to have projects in which children and young people have a voice and a chance to be equal participants. This chimes with our Me first ethos of including children and young people more actively in their care.
In the afternoon it was time for Rachel to give her key note speech and to share with everyone what a great year Me first has experienced in the year since our win.
Watch Rachel’s presentation here:
Highlights of our year included:
Winning at PENNA raised our profile and helped to make Me first a recognised name within the field of Healthcare Training. To be associated with such a highly regarded organisation was a wonderful asset for us and we are delighted with the strong year we have experienced.
As Rachel mentions in her speech, one of the questions people ask when hearing about a product is ‘who else thinks it’s good?’ Being endorsed by PENNA gives us credibility and sends a strong message that our programme is worth investing in. For the team such accolades have been highly motivational and have helped us to develop and grow together. If you also regard Me first as an important tool for improving communication with children and young people, speak to your line manager or budget holder about booking a bespoke session for your work site.
We hope that in engaging more healthcare professionals and spreading the Me first message, we are in turn continuing to improve experience for children and young people who are accessing healthcare.
We hope to return to Birmingham for PENNA 2017!
Me first Project Coordinator