Richard, Patient Engagement Lead in our Patient Experience Team talks about his role.
Q:What motivates you to work at St Andrew’s as part of the Patient Experience Team?
Undoubtedly, the patients. Each one has a unique experience of life which is both humbling, sometimes heart-breaking, usually no fault of their own but down to a mental health condition as well as some bad choices. Each one of them deserves to have a book or film about their lives. We have so much to learn from our patients and their relatives. Just by taking time to listen, understand and make changes where needed - we can make a big difference.
Q: How did your career lead you to working at St Andrew’s?
Including the excluded, enabling people to make their own informed choices and empowering people to be the person they are meant to be has always formed part of my ethos for working with others. I spent 30 years in Youth and Community Work within the charity sector and the civil service, working with Army families and the challenges that young people and parents face on a day to day basis. These issues often included mental and emotional health. I did a mental health first aid course which I recommend to anyone. This encouraged me to work with people who suffer from mental health issues, realising that all of us are vulnerable.
Q: What is the best part of working as part of the Patient Experience Team at St Andrew's?
If I can make a patient smile and offer a sense of hope in life - that is such a fulfilling gift.
Q: What do you find most challenging about your role?
Patient Experience is not a department - it is something that we should all consider as part of our work. Valuing the experience each patient brings should be a core competence of every role. The challenge is that patient experience is not separate from occupational therapy, social work, nursing, activity co-ordinators, dietitians and all the other professions that support people's recovery - it is an integral part of all of these roles.
Q: Can you describe your average day at work in three words?To have a Patient Engagement Lead in each pathway working with patients and staff, and bespoke to the needs of each pathway.
Different every day.
Q: How would you describe your role?
Essentially my role enables patients to feed back their experience of the care St Andrew's offer. It is also about getting patients involved in how the hospital operates. The key principles of offering Hope, Opportunity, Choice and Control are vital to my role. I need the expertise of the occupational therapists and wider team to support the patient and myself with the role and tasks in hand. If a patient can progress in making their own informed choice because they have considered the options and consequences to themselves and others, then we have done our job.
Q: How much of your role is patient focused?
My role is praised, judged or condemned by patients so it is patient focused. However, I cannot do anything without the support of staff around the patient – the multi-disciplinary team. I do my best to support the staff on wards too, particularly if a ward is dealing with some difficult situations.
Q: How do you and your team make a difference?
The team make a difference by guiding staff about how the patient experience opportunities encourage recovery. There is a huge amount of admin and communication that goes on in the background. We have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. It is not that long ago when patients were not on interview panels or management focus groups, and today, we have been employing ex-patients for over two years.