Here at Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) we are always looking for innovative ways to help our clients to put the views and experiences of patients, carers and staff at the heart of the decisions made about healthcare services.
East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) asked for our help to deliver Improving Lives, a transformational, outcomes-focused contract to improve services for patients with long-term conditions and those who are older and sometimes frail. We saw the perfect opportunity to use a new approach to involving patients and carers and gathering and analysing their views and experiences, called Experience Led Commissioning.
Experience Led Commissioning is built around the idea that if we listen to and understand people's experiences, we will design more person-centred services that will deliver better care. As one part of the process, we invited patients, carers and staff to an event where we took them through each step of their healthcare journey and asked them how they felt at specific points. We also asked them what changes they would like to see in the future to give us an insight into the outcomes that will help people to live their lives to the full.
As someone who is really passionate about patient involvement, I found this process really exciting. We often ask patients and carers to rate the service they receive but, in my experience, we rarely ask them about how the experience of using a service made them feel. The patient may get the right treatment they need but if their experience of the service made them feel worried or disappointed, can we really say that they received the best possible care?
As part of the Experience Led Commissioning Process, we helped patients, carers, providers, commissioners, GPs and nurses to work together to create a vision for the future and set out the bold steps to be taken to achieve it by using another process called Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH).
Combined with the emotional mapping we did, this vision for the future drove the process to help develop the outcomes which form part of the Improving Lives contract.
Deborah Neal is a Locality Communications & Engagement Lead for East Staffordshire CCG