How can we support lay partners?
RECRUITING AND DEVELOPING LAY PARTNERS
Recruitment Lay partners for the Lay Partners Advisory Group were drawn from people who had been working with Shaping a Healthier Future or with the Inner and Outer Integrated Care Pilots (ICPs). In addition, nominations were sought via CCGs, Healthwatch, Directors of Adult Social Services, Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC), primary-care patient participation groups and various health- and social-care-related charities.
[#patientleaders case study]
Role profiles were prepared for the lay partner positions available on each respective programme module working group (see Supporting Material C: Embedding Partnerships Supplement) which was critical to ensuring that volunteer lay partners knew what they were signing up to in terms of estimated time commitment and activity, and had the required expertise or special interest to contribute effectively to the working group. Lay partners on the Advisory Group attend on average eight hours of meetings per month, plus reading and commenting on discussion papers.
A targeted recruitment strategy for the Lay Partners Forum was produced with agreement from the Lay Partners Advisory Group. Recruitment to the Lay Partners Forum is ongoing and is primarily driven by the Population and Outcomes working group population groupings. In addition to this, we are also seeking to ensure that the Forum has equalities-based representation, using the Equality Act 2010 definitions as our guide. The protected characteristics will be considered in proportion to their prevalence across the demographic by borough. In addition to these two key guides, we are including subsets of these groups, those often described as the ‘seldom heard voices’.
These may include, but are not limited to:
- Care home residents
- Elderly people living at home alone
- Users of day centres
To ensure the Lay Partners Forum is as broad and representative as possible and has the ability to reach out deep into local communities, it is preferred that members should be part of/connected to local community groups with a wide personal network.
We aim to establish eight local forums (one for each borough in North West London). We are targeting known individuals and organisations across the health- and social-care system, as well as leveraging the networks of existing lay partners, Local Authority and CCG leads and third sector user groups. This will help to ensure alignment with local engagement activity, efficacy of our targeting and continuity for those we are working with – whilst simultaneously raising the awareness of the North West London Whole Systems Integrated Care programme and the opportunity to be involved via Embedding Partnerships.
- Non-registered health- and social-care staff.
The team have tried hard to facilitate our involvement, offering briefings and to take issues forward on our behalf. For example, I fed back at an early stage that I thought we needed more structure and help to enable such a diverse group to make progress over such short meetings and to such a tight timescale. At the next meeting they suggested an approach and sought views on it. We were far more effective as a result.
In response to a request from the first nominees, a training day—"The Effective Lay Partner”—was held for those interested in getting involved (see Supporting Material C: Embedding Partnerships Supplement). The purpose of this was threefold: up skilling the potential lay partners to be able to assume this role effectively, as a recruitment opportunity for Embedding Partnerships and to offer a personal development opportunity for the potential lay partners as some recompense for their dedication of time and skills to the programme. This was facilitated by a patient-led organisation.
Participants were given an overview of the ambitions of Whole Systems Integrated Care and the role that lay partners might play in co-producing the system. They were encouraged to ‘challenge the current paradigm of health care, altering the fundamental power structures and promoting a new vision of collaboration.’
Working in small groups they identified the skills they would need in order to be effective, reliable and objective, rising above their own personal experiences to take into account the views of those they represented.
Further support was offered to those lay partners who volunteered to be the lay partner representatives on each of the co-design module working groups, in the shape of one-to-one pre-briefings and debriefings. The Lay Partners Advisory Group, which met fortnightly, proved a useful source of peer support, acting as a forum for sharing experiences and information. One of the biggest lessons we learned was the need to have at a very minimum two lay partners on each module working group, so that they were able to support each other and provide a breadth of viewpoints to other partners in the group.