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NHS Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group

Keen to improve its employees’ understanding and knowledge of Leicester and its culture, the NHS Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group used an annual staff event to show them how to, quite literally, walk in their patients’ shoes.

Experiential education underpinned the day’s activities. Colin Hyde, a researcher and curator of Leicester’s oral history archive, and a public health consultant provided a historical context to the health issues of Leicester, by explaining the reasons behind its diverse population. In doing so, the discussion focused on the ultimate objective to provide reflective health services that suit the needs of the community.

To encourage networking, colleagues across all levels of the organisation were mixed together into groups prior to the event. Each group visited a diff erent ward, learning about its origins and work, and then created information and artefacts onto A1-sized ward boards in a mass ‘cut and stick’ session.

Patients, service users and carers were invited to share their experiences of NHS Leicester City, and feedback videos were also shown.

Using these ward boards, participants were able to identify health needs, neighbourhoods and lifestyles and understand the services required, while a Play Your NHS Cards Right competition, highlighted the real cost of services within the NHS.

Attendees also ‘walked’ in the shoes of patients, service users and carers through different experiences. Working with partnership organisations, they experienced the challenge of, for example, being visually or hearing impaired, being unable to speak English and trying to access health services for the first time, being elderly or clinically obese.

This practical and creative session engendered understanding and empathy of the challenges faced by patients, and led to discussions about how better to commission services.

Almost eight in ten respondents (77 per cent) said that the pre-event activities helped them to work with colleagues they had previously not known, while 83 per cent rated the event as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

The event has since fostered better collaboration among colleagues, prompted recommendations to improve services that are being acted upon and has given employees a better understanding of patients and the barriers they face. Staff have also asked how they can work together more in the future using the information that the day provided.

The judges found the ‘Walk in my shoes’ event to be ‘highly effective’, and achieved for a budget of less than £5,000. ‘It was immersive and engaging, with a smart use of proper storytelling.’