What does it mean and how can it help our service?
Participation is about involving the service user so that they have an active voice in how the service is run. The aim of this is to shape the service to better suit those it is created for.
What is a participation group and why have them?
Participation workers, alongside clinicians, run participation groups with service users in order to discuss either a designated topic or feedback from the young people themselves. Before the Covid-19 crisis, groups were mostly locality based and would meet on a regular basis (usually once every 1-2 months) after school hours. Due to the current situation, some groups have paused whilst others have adapted to using online methods such as Zoom or Teams. For example, recently, we have run groups via Zoom with young people across Kent and Essex with the specific aim of discussing young peoples’ experiences of digital therapies. Using these groups, we co-created a survey that will be sent to everyone in the service, in order to get a better picture of the situation. It meant the young people were able to highlight issues we may not have considered and as a result wouldn’t have been included in the survey without their input. The results of this survey will be the basis for the future of the service’s digital offer. There are many other elements of our service which we continue to work with service users to improve and develop.
How does participation benefit us?
Participation has many benefits for the service users and for clinicians. Young people have reported that they feel their voice is more appreciated as well as the service being more suited to them, and feeling more accessible. It also gives them an opportunity to access peer support as well as being an experience they might want to include in future college, university or job applications.
For clinicians, the increased engagement and involvement of young people can lead to better treatment outcomes for our service users and can also be beneficial for staff development. It’s also an important element of NELFT policy.
How can you get involved?
If you are interested in using your voice and experience to help us improve our services please speak to your clinician/health care worker and they will put you in touch with one of our participation workers. You can also follow us on Instagram @kentandmedwaycamhs to find out more about how service users are working with us and about specific projects which might interest you.