Articulating need

Our work is all about transforming lives through innovation. Some of these innovations are mandated to KSS AHSN, as they are to all 15 AHSNs across England, and we are active in spreading these across our local region.

Some innovations we find ourselves, from partners within the national AHSN Network, or from people and companies who contact us directly. And some solutions that our population or health and care staff need are yet to be designed or the need isn’t even realised. Bringing people together to articulate these needs is the first step to bringing potential solutions to life.

A co-design approach

We have identified five areas that we want to focus on and, taking a co-design approach, have started to develop problem statements that describe the unmet, or inadequately met, need that our population has.

These statements will help us to focus on challenges where we can make a difference to our population and which can be shared with the rest of the AHSN Network. We will also support our region to adopt and spread the effective solutions that emerge.

Our five areas of focus

  1. The crises people nearing end of life experience in the community that result in A&E conveyance and admission
  2. Learning disability
  3. Disparity in uptake of screening programmes
  4. Delaying / preventing the onset of frailty
  5. Diagnosis and management of clinical dermatology. 

Case Study – Learning Disability

In December we held our first-ever engagement event exploring the needs of those with Learning Disabilities and Autism across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, as well as the needs of families, carers and providers of health and social care.

Not only was this a new population group for us to engage with, it was also the first time we used a TEDx style approach to structure the day.

This consisted of three different agenda items running for around 20 minutes each, grouped around the same theme, followed by a debrief breakout session.

We followed this format throughout the day and focused our themes on:

  • lived experiences
  • Learning Disability and Autism in Kent, Surrey and Sussex
  • Carers.

Our primary goal was to explore and listen to people’s lived experiences and create an environment where people felt able to talk about their stories.

In that aim we were successful, as over 60 attendees told us about personal experiences including challenges such as emergency admissions to hospital, social isolation, communication needs and barriers, and accessibility requirements for different services, to name but a few.

During one of the sessions we began to explore the limited data that is available from Kent, Surrey and Sussex for people who live with learning disabilities or autism, and compared that with England-wide data. In another item we heard about the hospital passport prompts that are in use in Sussex, as well as providing an opportunity for Action for Carers in Surrey to talk about their work in a session about supporting carers.

The day was a great opportunity to connect a range of people from different parts of the health, social and education systems, and we are now in the process of creating challenge statements around the outputs from the day.

In order to ensure we accurately captured people’s reflections, we asked them to write down their comments, ideas and reflections on the tablecloths, locate services on Kent, Surrey and Sussex poster maps and “make a wish for Christmas” to explain what their priorities were.

From this, we were able to analyse people’s feedback and have identified the following key themes:

  • Non-verbal needs, sensory needs and reasonable adjustments
  • Communication between organisations and in organisations (e.g. when being transferred between wards)
  • Geographical variation and the impact this has on service access
  • Safeguarding and transfer of care, patient-centred care and individual needs
  • Poor data quality and data incompleteness particularly with regards to the rural/urban divide and accommodation
  • Preventable conditions and early intervention.

We want to continue to listen to people’s priorities rather than make assumptions ourselves to dictate the programme, so we have shared these themes with attendees and stakeholders for further input and discussion before we approach innovators and academia for potential solutions.  

Case Study – Health Technology Accelerator

We were delighted that our partners Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS FT and the University of Surrey succeeded in their £1.6 million bid to fund a health technology accelerator centre on the Surrey University campus. The bid was inspired and informed by a KSS AHSN-led study tour to Denmark.

KSS AHSN has facilitated a number of tours to Denmark, and Des Holden, KSS AHSN’s Medical Director, said these trips are now paying dividends:

“Key stakeholders from academia, the Surrey Heartlands Academy and provider trusts, most notably Surrey and Borders Partnership, had been on previous trips and seen first-hand how such centres enable health and social care providers, citizens who become trusted users, academics and industry to come together to co-design better care solutions.

“Some of these trips lit the flame, and our most recent trip put the finishing touches to how the value of the successful bid would be realised.

“We’ve moved from us watching Denmark a little enviously, to Denmark applauding our vision and our opportunity.”

KSS AHSN will now be working with the Surrey Heartlands Academy to develop the pipeline of projects into the health technology accelerator.