Do we really listen to children and young people in health care?

I love it when I find the right partners. We see the opportunity to do something imaginative together and we just get on and do it. ‘JFDI’ It is one of the biggest advantages of being a small organisation.

kath evans Capture

Kath Evans, Patient Experience Lead, NHS England

And so it was when Kath Evans, whom I nickname ‘can-do Kath’, invited me along to a focus group in London as part of a project to develop materials to run training courses to improve communication between healthcare professionals, children and young people and their parents. The focus group was great and it was really helpful to hear first-hand what the key issues were.

I found it absolutely fascinating. As a parent, I could identify with the various issues. Children growing up, wanting to be independent (or not!), anxious parents used to being ‘in control’ but gradually handing over the reins, children with different personalities, levels of understanding, confidence…

And health care professionals who may or may not know much about communicating well with children, especially if they are not paediatric specialists. Getting it right – for every child and family, consistently – is a huge challenge but so, so important.

It turned out that the project was sponsored by Great Ormond Street hospital and the London Local Education and Training board (LETB). The short version of the story is that they had the source material and I had the Whose Shoes? toolkit to bring the conversations alive; we put them together to meet the identified training need in an innovative and engaging way.

Kate Martin, from Common Room, who is leading the training programme was luckily able to come along to the Whose Shoes?  ‘Train the facilitator’ session we held in London, as part of the maternity experience project. This meant that she was able to experience the tool in action and this helped to find how it would best fit with the children’s project. From a multitude of crowd-sourced scenarios, the final ones were chosen and we were ready to go.

CYP Img_4680AThree pilot sessions were held in quick succession. I was lucky enough to be able to go along to the final one. I felt a bit sorry for Kate as all the project sponsors turned up to the same event, so it must have been slightly daunting.

Participants had all volunteered to come (no-one press-ganged!): a fantastic mix of health care professionals from hospitals and organisations right across London.

It was clear that this was a highly skilled audience. These people were passionate and knew the ins and outs of communicating with children and young people. They brought examples from their own practice that were extremely tricky and testing.

We used Whose Shoes? in the morning session to get people thinking creatively and opening their minds to imaginative solutions. The session was buzzing – it is always good when people don’t want to stop. I was impressed by the sharing of challenges and solutions.

In the afternoon the learning from the earlier discussions was applied to specific scenarios and it was wonderful to see some extremely practical ideas being formulated. I was ‘’teamed’ with a dietician and a diabetes specialist and we explored ways to get some of the most ‘resistant’ young people to adopt heathier choices.

The project is proving extremely popular and with great feedback.

This is the kind of project I love: values-driven approach and the opportunity for real sharing between hospitals. Inter-professional learning. Breaking down the silos.

If you are interested in taking part, there are further workshops coming up in July and September. Contact

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Postscript. In putting together this blog, I have just spotted the most amazing co-incidence. Ali Gardner was one of my very first customers and a fab Whose Shoes? champion – we have done a lot of really creative stuff together. And here she is praising Kate Martin, her ex-student.

Kate – a trip down memory lane. See if you can spot Ali and me 🙂

About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives.
This entry was posted in children and young people, co-production, communication, community engagement, health, in my shoes, personalisation, well-being and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Do we really listen to children and young people in health care?

  1. Dorothy Hall says:

    Great to read this blog, Gill. As an occasional Whose Shoes facilitator & a Social Work Practice Educator I continually see how vital good communication is. New resources & new initiatives are out there ,& I’m going to look up some of the references for my own practice. Dorothy Hall


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