Jul 182018

Owen Hughes Consultant Counselling Psychologist and Head of Pain and Fatigue Management Service, Powys Teaching Health Board

The Q community has opened its doors to new members again and you may be wondering how this community is dissimilar to the other improvement organisations that are available in health. For me, the Q community IS different. It brings together a unique group of people and has led to learning and opportunities that I just haven’t found elsewhere.

In days gone by one could be forgiven for thinking that improvement or organisational development was the sole job of people who were brought in to fix problems. Now, however, it is very much part of the day job for us all. As a clinician and service lead, I am constantly looking for resources and networks to help me come up with ways of meeting the needs of our population, without having to spend more money, and for me the Q community has been a fantastic opportunity to meet some great people and hear some truly inspirational ideas.

The Q community is run by the Health Foundation. It is a network of people who are interested in improving the health and wellbeing in all its facets. Whilst there are many members who work in the field of continuous improvement or organisational development there are also plenty of professionals from health, care and housing and third sector organisations as well as the people using services themselves.

I joined approximately two years ago and almost immediately got involved in the first of the “Q Labs” which was focused on developing peer support. I have always been a fan of people working with their peers to overcome their challenges. People who are willing to share their lived experience can be so powerful but too often peer support schemes have ended prematurely. The Q Lab enabled me to network with a diverse range of people with a huge amount of combined experience and allowed me to learn some better ways forward. To this end we are now working with Digital Communities Wales to help service users become more confident and proficient at using online resources to support their self management.

I have been impressed by the time and thought that has been put into the design of the Q labs. The materials used in the workshop and the way the process has been put together has been so provoking that I have never left an event with anything other than a head full of ideas and contacts. It has really given me pause for thought with regard to the materials I use in workshops and meetings with service users and colleagues and has shown me what an important part that design plays in improvement. They say good design releases dopamine in the brain and it goes some way to explaining why the process feels so worthwhile.

Recently, I have been participating in the Q Exchange process. At the end of the process is the possibility of receiving up to £30,000 to support a project but equally valuable has been the process of putting together the bid with the support and challenge of other members of the Q community. The input of the community has meant that the project has developed from an initial idea to a much more robust concept that may be worthy of funding. The projects that will be funded will be chosen by the community in September after another round of development. If we are lucky enough to be selected I know that there will be further support to maximise its chance of success.

If you are interested in developing your skills in improving services, want to be exposed to new ideas and challenges, and want to be a part of a kind and supportive community then I highly recommend the Q community to you.

Apply today https://q.health.org.uk/join-q/

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