Coming together to start a revolution

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) are working hand in hand with local communities, service users and voluntary sector organisations to launch a new way of working that will revolutionise the health and wellbeing of people in the county.

The Trust’s Community Participation Strategy sets out a vision to grow partnerships with service users, carers and communities in which they are equal and play a greater role in promoting health and wellbeing.

To kick start the work, and to showcase what’s already being done, staff from the Trust recently met with local communities, voluntary sector organisations and service users at an event called ‘Come Together’, organised jointly with Healthwatch Cumbria and Cumbria CVS. 

Dr Sara Munro, Director of Quality and Nursing, explained how the event marked the start of realising this vision:

“The Come Together event aimed to kick start this transformation by considering what great collaboration looks like and what steps we need to take to achieve it. We need to improve the role of patients, carers and the voluntary sector in developing our services in order to build happier, healthier and more hopeful communities.”

David Gilbert, Patient Director, Sussex MSK Partnership and former service user, gave the keynote speech which included personal stories to illustrate the importance of equal partnerships:

“Successful partnerships need to be based on adult-adult relationships, where the service user is treated as an equal. Proper communication between patients and staff is vital. It can save lives.”

Paul Lee, CPFT Public Governor for Allerdale, believes that trusts like CPFT can learn a lot from David’s experience and his current role:

“I feel the event was a great success with David setting the mantle for service user involvement at all levels throughout all NHS foundation trusts.”

The Alzheimer’s Society, Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and CPFT presented the success they have had integrating dementia services in Furness. Their joined up approach has had a number of benefits including reduced hospital admissions, increased training and an improved patient experience.

Jozi Brown, Senior Engagement Officer at Cumbria CVS, explained the power of collaboration when working towards a joint goal:

“We all share the same aspirations for the people of Cumbria – excellent health and care services. By working together we can build closer connections with Cumbrian citizens to improve outcomes, provide services that reflect what people want and need, and ultimately improve quality of life.

“This strategy is a strong statement that CPFT is committed to real collaboration – working with and listening to the people and communities it serves.”

Delegates were asked to discuss the values that are needed to make collaboration really work. The need for honesty and flexibility was clear throughout the day, as Clare Parker, Associate Director of Quality and Nursing, explained:

“Being open and having the courage to say when things haven’t gone to plan is crucial at all levels of engagement. We can use this to learn lessons and move forward.”

“We leave today with a number of actions that have been agreed together. It’s the first step towards closer working with our communities and I’m really excited about what the future holds.”

Come Together Event