BLOG: Diary of a QuIPPS panellist

In autumn 2018 we began our Quality Improvement Partner Panels (QuIPPs), an initiative part-funded by The Health Foundation‘s Q Exchange programme to improve the quality of health and care services by ensuring the voice of the public features in innovation and improvement projects.

QuIPPS invites members of the public from all backgrounds to join. Devon resident and Devon County Council employee Andrea East, who has experienced health services first-hand, documented her experience of the panel.
 
Eight years ago
Experienced watching my mum, diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, be admitted to a ward for a chest X-ray, days before she slipped away. Awful admission, ward experience, and professional conduct. Sad, could be so much better.
Two years ago
Watched hospital staff working hard to get care right for my dying dad but somehow not getting it right. What was going wrong? Six years on and nothing had changed, no learning had been shared. Why not?
Spring 2018 
See an advert for QuIPPS. Looks interesting. Could I help to make a difference? Be a voice for learning? Could things change? How on earth would I fit this into my busy life? Let’s see what the information says.
Later on…
That’s it, I’ve applied! Easy peasy process. Application form and references required online. Not sure I have the time or the energy for this kind of voluntary commitment, we’ll see. I’m sure it will be worth it if the quality panels make a difference.
A little later…
They want to do a telephone interview. I never expected an interview process and it’s been a while. How can it be stressful, it’s over the telephone! At least I don’t need to buy a suit or create a presentation.    
Even later…
I think I like this SW AHSN lot; they get back to me quickly, send positive emails, have pleasant staff, and the interview was straightforward. Is this a good thing or should I be concerned? No, they keep reassuring me, it will be fine!
 
Summer 2018
It’s real now …I’ve been informed that I’m a panellist! I am delighted. Doubts race out of the window as I plan how to get to the four study days. I am excited about the people I will meet, the projects we might see, and what we are going to be a part of.
February 2019 – First day of training
WOW! Inspiring, scary, this could be fabulous! Forty people just like me; nervous, unsure, all with a common goal to make a difference.
Not a bad start focusing on how we will work to improve patient and staff lives. I like Jono and Jo immediately. Interesting speakers keep us all hooked. I like creating a set of a shared and agreed training principles, such as for everyone to be ‘present’ in the room, not to assume anything, and my favourite:
Looking forward to more group work. I never want to see a Mr Potato Head again!
Day two
Second day of training. Relearning concepts from my past health career; how improvements can be measured and how we move away from quality assurance to quality improvement. An introduction to run charts – they seem straightforward enough.
Meeting fellow panellists who seem kind, caring, passionate, and committed to trying to help, support, and move projects along. A few strong characters (me included). Whoever chairs these panels needs to be skilled! Luckily, Jono seems clear about what he wants and is able to direct people clearly without upsetting anyone. We’re in good hands.
Day three
Third day of training: what to look for when assessing a quality improvement project. We begin with ‘Lost at sea’ – the most frustrating exercise EVER! It really does show how groups can be dysfunctional and how, as panellists, we need to work together. Listen and try not to judge …good practice for the panels.
Next, we do some real panel work. One brave soul shares a ‘live’ project. We split into our panels and the ideas come thick and fast. Everyone chips in, everyone is given an opportunity to speak. The noise, energy, and discussion sweeps the time away and we come up with our first recommendation: to think about a new approach to training staff in recognising sepsis which includes domestic staff. You can see the project lead nodding. A cheer goes up in the room and there’s a great sense of community achieving something. A good day, especially given it’s the anniversary of my mum’s death. She would be so pleased.
Sometime between training days three and four  
Back to the day job, to family, to busy life. I have joined Twitter! I have Zoom! I am learning, testing myself to try things, to answer or discuss something without blushing beetroot. Can’t wait for day four of training and more projects, more panels, and more people, really caring and really trying to make a difference – that’s what this is all about.
Day four – Final day
Running late from Bournemouth, hurtle into the fourth training day and an introduction to the improvement work stream of the SW AHSN. Then lots of panel session practice.
Today is also GRADUATION DAY! A celebration of our commitment to the training by a formal (ish) thank you and a certificate. Back comes that great feeling of being part of a community and working together to make positive changes. Well done to us as panellists and well done to the SW AHSN team. Bring on the next 12 months! We are ready!
 
Over 30 members of the public now form four different QuIPPS panels covering the South West of England.
If you are planning or running a quality improvement project in health or social care, or you’re an innovator working on a new product or service change, QuIPPS can help you to coordinate timely, effective, and meaningful public engagement. To find out more please contact QUIPPS@swahsn.com or visit our webpage.   

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