Joyce's story

So many people are angry at the way things are run.  I agree but instead of complaining I wanted to do something that maybe could make a difference.  My GP surgery – Northbourne Medical Centre in Shoreham-by-Sea seemed to be doing most things right so I thought I would see why that is.  Their lead GP at the time asked two of us to consider forming a Patient Participation Group.  (We dropped the Participation in our title to make it sound less formal) and supported by the Practice Manager, who was our critical friend and useful to drive some items forward, we began our journey.

Joan became Chair and I took the role of Secretary which evolved to Honorary Secretary.

Over the years we have refined our aims and objectives and the ways we fulfil them.  They are:

  • Fostering good communication between the patients and the Practice.  This is mainly done by face-to-face involvement but also through surveys, Facebook and newsletters;
  • Providing practical support whenever needed including cleaning toys and wheelchairs; providing refreshments and orderly queues at flu clinic; showing how to self-check blood pressure, weight and height. We also help with the Carers’ register, promote the use of automated services, discuss findings of Inspections and help with action planning if appropriate;
  • Providing information about health care by holding evening information meetings with invited guests and health information days involving other local PPGs where possible. Recently we worked with the Physiotherapy team at Southlands Hospital to hold a “How to find your Healthier Self” event.  We stay in touch with outside agencies such as the National Association of Patient Participation, the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Local Community Network through committee members attending external meetings and/or receiving newsletters and reporting back to the group;
  • Fundraising to purchase additional equipment – an excellent way to involve non-committee members and to purchase items not usually found in GP Surgeries.

However, what gives me the greatest pleasure is our monthly Memory Cafe – we usually get a full house and offer home-made cake and refreshments, outside speakers and lots of games, fun and laughter.  Carers who attend give us the feedback we need to make everything worthwhile.

As the NHS changes, we will try to keep abreast with things and continue modifying our approach to aim to meet new needs.  I guess we will also be on the look-out for 2 members to eventually hand the baton onto!