12. Running the joint patient-staff event

This event brings together the patients and staff to hear each other's perspectives on the service and identify the key priorities to tackle together to make improvements.

12 EBCD: Running the joint patient-staff event

This event follows on from the separate feedback events for staff and patients. The proceedings open with a welcome, followed by an overview of the process so far and an explanation of the structure of the event. (See  joint patient-staff event agenda template and sample joint patient-staff event presentation).

The whole group then watches the patient film, and the group spends 10 minutes discussing the footage. The staff and patient priorities that were agreed at the separate events are shared so that all participants can see the priorities discussed.

After a break, the facilitator ensures that participants are evenly spread into groups of eight or so per table, with a good mix of staff and at least two patients at each table. The participants introduce themselves to the others around the table. There are then 40-50 minutes of unstructured discussion to analyse the long list of issues highlighted at the previous meetings, and to highlight priority areas for work.

After this, the facilitator brings the whole group back together to share those priorities and to jointly narrow the choice down to three or four key target areas for service improvement. Finally, participants are invited to join the co-design group that will focus on the area of most interest to them.

Key points

  • Allow around three hours for the event. It can work well in the afternoon, with lunch provided beforehand to encourage people to arrive on time.
  • Patients may be quite nervous about attending, so it is very important that you welcome them attentively. Giving everybody a sticker or badge showing their first name can help patients and staff at all levels to feel more equal.
  • Check and double-check your audio-visual equipment. The success of the event depends on the film running smoothly.
  • Provide an agenda so everyone is clear what to expect and when.
  • If you can encourage a patient to introduce the film, this will give it much more impact, but do offer support and reassurance when they are planning what to say.
  • Encourage solution-focused thinking. Remind people about the unique range of skills and expertise in the room, shift the discussions to small groups and encourage groups to set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable and time bound), focusing on thinking about how things could be different.
  • Where possible, arrange for someone to facilitate each small-group discussion. They can help ensure that everyone has a say and keep the discussions on track.
  • It is helpful for each group to include someone senior from the service with some responsibility for the issues being discussed.
  • Give the groups clear instructions about what to do in their time together and what they will be able to talk about at later discussions.
  • Allow enough time for people to hold a meaningful discussion about their responses to the film, before bringing the discussion back to prioritising areas for improvement.
  • Although it can be tough for staff to watch frank feedback about their service, viewing the film together and then discussing it is often a moving, powerful and very positive part of the process. 
  • If the film raises some very sensitive issues about individual staff members or service performance, you may want to show it to certain staff beforehand. Even if staff are not named in the films, it may be apparent from the context which team or individual is involved. However, it is important to focus the film edits, events and discussions on a service-focused, rather than a personal, agenda.
  • Some facilitators select areas for improvement using a voting system, while others find that a consensus naturally emerges.
  • As soon as participants have selected their co-design groups, discuss what time of the week it would suit everyone to meet, plan a date for the first meeting, and gather contact details. Ask staff if any other colleagues should be involved, and how often.
  • Make sure you get the groups going quickly, and keep in touch with people in between meetings, so that the momentum does not fizzle out.
  • Once word gets out about the patient film, many people will want to see it. Make sure you have robust processes for enabling people to see the film in appropriate contexts that those involved in the service are in agreement with and in line with what was agreed with patients through the consent process.
  • It is again valuable for your own reflection and learning to get feedback on this event from the people who attended. (See sample joint patient-staff event feedback form).

Read the next section

13. Running the co-design groups