Apr 15

Successful PPI in Healthcare education: Is it about identity, values, culture?

Recently I attended the latest meeting of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Lived Experience Network. This is a vibrant grouping of academics, patients/service users and carers that meet three times a year to share good practice within healthcare PPI in education in different educational institutions around the country. The host institute will usually ‘showcase’ their activities to encourage patient & public involvement within their organisation and ask for comments, observations, etc. Last weeks meeting was hosted by Bradford university and featured their service user and carer involvement group. They effectively told ‘their journey’ to date which has been underway for the last ten years or so.Some highlights include the development of an open online resource, the virtual fictional town of ‘Bradton’ which is based on real people and real groups (http://bradton.pbworks.com/w/page/51823092/Home%20Page). This is an amazing resource that any institution or group can utilise for educational purposes. Clearly a great deal of work has gone into preparing the material and could be considered a brilliant example of collaborative work between the academics of Bradford uni and their patient/carer partners.

Another example of what true collaboration can achieve, and is the result of the many years of evolving this relationship, is the university of Bradford school of health studies service user and carer involvement strategy publication. This document sets out in detail their commitment to service user involvement at each stage of the student journey, from student recruitment and induction, student learning and teaching, curriculum development, course approval, evaluation, governance and research and finance for PPI activities.

Its very clear on the school web home page that they prominently display their commitment to service user and carer involvement. To quote: “All our courses have been approved on the basis that there is substantial involvement from Service Users and Carers. As such students should expect Service Users and Carers to have an impact on their learning whether that is through face to face contact, in teaching sessions or assessments, through the production of re-useable learning materials, such as digital stories, audio or video and the evaluation and management of their courses”.

So, why am I extolling the virtues of the PPI agenda of Bradford university? Actually, other institutions also have well developed successful approaches that have been showcased at previous meetings, including Leeds medical school and Liverpool School of health sciences. Everyone has evolved their own way of doing this, although we can all share good practice and reduce the need to reinvent the wheel. However, I would like to speculate what those that are more successful at developing their PPI agenda have in common.

I would suggest that common factors amongst those institutions that have appear to have developed a genuine commitment to patient and public involvement have a sense of their own individual ‘identity’ for PPI, a shared set of ‘values’ between academics and patients and have therefore demonstrated a ‘culture of collaboration’ in which to achieve high levels of involvement. They have a ‘can do’ approach to involvement that can overcome the many barriers  I have discussed in a previous blog entry. What evidence do I have for these observations? Here are some brief reflections:

  • The service user group have developed their own logo, leaflets, web presence, mugs, etc. They have their own distinct ‘identity’ within the school.
  • The pride demonstrated by a patient when she talked about being involved with students and staff in ways in which she could see the contribution she was making.
  • The words spoken by the Dean of the school within the strategy guide foreward when she talks about he school “being serious in its commitment to want to (her italics)  place service users centrally and to move beyond mandatory requirements.
  • The ‘buy in’ from the school (academics to finance) that makes this work across the school (plus a very generous PPI budget!)
  • A shared set of values is evident from taking account of all the above.

Clearly this is not evidence and is only my brief observations/reflections based on a document, website and a meeting. Its also not the only way to become successful at PPI and by their own admission Bradford is a work in progress. What is clear is than many other institutions are deciding to grasp the nettle of PPI seriously and overcome the barriers that are present within universities per se, and doing this in differing ways. It does appear that this ‘shared set of values’ could be considered common to those institutions that appear successful. This is only a personal observation however and would need further study to explore.  However, the challenge  increasingly will need to move beyond developing a successful PPI culture to determining whether such a culture, or any other PPI approach, actually makes students into better practitioners, which could then mean improved patient outcomes for all. In other words, what impact does PPI in healthcare education have and how can we measure/observe/explore and record any impact it may have had.

Comment is always welcome about any of my blogs.


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