Lived experience is the most powerful learning tool

Written by: Nancy Greig, Membership Officer, the ALLIANCE

Published: 11/09/2013

Our June networking event was a great opportunity to learn something new, says Nancy Greig.

Our June networking event at the ALLIANCE Hub was, as always, a great opportunity for members to get together with the common goal of learning something new (and enjoying a bit of lunch together too). I’m sure most people would agree that the most powerful learning experiences tend to come from hearing or reading about others’ lived experiences and with the focus on involvement at this event provided a platform for the ALLIANCE to highlight various ways in which people’s lived experience can be central to the design and delivery of support and services and to the development of policy.

Throughout the event thoughts and discussion were captured by graphic facilitator, Claire Mills. So if pictures really do tell a thousand words, then I apologise now for the length of this Viewpoint!

In an example of how members of the ALLIANCE’s Involvement Network have used their lived experience to shape the development of a new training resource for health and social care professionals, Marie-Claire Shankland from NHS Education for Scotland (NES) described how the ‘Emotion Matters’ resource aims to increase understanding and awareness of the psycho-social aspects of living with a long term condition. NES worked with the ALLIANCE to involve people who were willing to talk on film about their emotions and the support they wanted from professionals.

One of those who had been involved, Marion Preston, illustrated the importance of lived experiences with a moving account of her journey with chronic pain. Marion described how she had been through a range of emotions from diagnosis to the present day and how losing her career been a great battle. She now feels she is able to use her other skills and gifts to help others.

Next, delegates had a whistle-stop tour of the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) Public Involvement project. Former Public Involvement Officer, Linda McGlynn explained the ground breaking nature of the project which has seen the number of submissions to the SMC from Patient Interest Groups increasing more than threefold.

The rest of the day was spent in discussion as delegates moved between four different carousel workshops to experience routes to involvement via the Involvement Network, the People Powered Health and Wellbeing programme, Dementia Carers Voices and A Local Information System for Scotland (ALISS).

These sessions helped people to learn about new projects in the organisation and think about how people can be directly involved in co-producing better outcomes for themselves and others. The plenary, chaired by People Powered Health and Wellbeing Programme Director, Lisa Curtice, threw up a host of questions which clearly demonstrated the organic nature of the co-production approach – building on the skills, knowledge, experience, networks and resources that individuals and communities can bring. Suggestions were made about the challenges of data sharing for ALISS, the link coordinator role with GPs and opportunities for community pharmacies to link with these preventative approaches. The take-home message was clear; your ideas are welcome, so please do get involved…

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