What can PPGs do to support their practice and bring benefits to patients?

Here’s some tried and tested ideas which groups have shared with us. We’re happy to add more to the list so do let us know if you have any more communications@dorsetccg.nhs.uk

Patient groups undertake a variety of activities to support their practices and benefit fellow patients, many are keen to share initiatives with other groups and take new ideas back to their PPG for consideration. Members are encouraged to share ideas within their own PPGs and at various networking opportunities within Dorset. Listed below are different ideas and activities that PPGs have shared, for further information or to add your group’s activities to the list please email: communications@dorsetccg.nhs.uk

Organising events

Our research tells us that people should be encouraged to take more responsibility for their own health. Health and wellbeing events can help do just this. They can be targeted at a particular patient group (for example diabetes) or can be more general where organisations come together to give information and advice to people visiting the event. See our ‘PPGs in action’ section to find out more.

A good way to give patients information on managing a health condition in an informal and even entertaining way! Guest speakers or clinicians are available for most well-known conditions. [give example of PPG in Purbeck]

A good newsletter can be a great way for the practice to communicate with patients. PPGs can collect information and articles from the practice, write articles and ensure the language is patient-friendly and relevant. Distribution methods can be discussed with the practice but could include laminated copies in waiting rooms, publishing on the practice website and email.

Flu clinics can be busy things! Some PPGs support their practice team to deliver a better patient experience by helping to organise the flow of patients, ensuring seating is available for patients who need it, providing refreshments and patient transport and running a PPG information stand.

Have a distinct role with the practice. They support patients to access community support to help reduce isolation and loneliness. Invite them along to your PPG meeting to find out more about what they do and see if you can work together. Perhaps a Health Champion could be a member of the PPG and report back on their activities at each meeting.

Are growing up around the country. These specialist clinics bring together patients who need regular leg treatments in a supporting and social environment. PPGs in Dorset already support the clubs by providing refreshment and transport for patients. Find out more. Add hyper link to leg club for this. 

Patient group members can work with and offer their support to their local voluntary car scheme. These teams of drivers help patients who are not able to arrange their own travel to get to their practice appointments. Similarly, patient groups have worked with their practice to make travel information available to patients. They have also explored more flexible clinics to enable better access.

To help reduce loneliness and isolation and working alongside local or voluntary transport groups, PPGs have organised patient outings to local attractions, garden centres or for shopping. This could be a great project to involve Health Champions in.

Work with the practice to organise a family fun day or more general open day. Invite local residents to come along to find out more about the practice and think about inviting local emergency services and other health and well-being organisations to have stands at the event. PPG members have previously helped with health-checks, refreshments, raffles and demonstrated patient online access and E-consult.

A lot of people don’t have access to the internet so have difficulty identifying local support services. PPGs in Sherborne came together to produce a directory “Who’s Who in the Sherborne area”. It listed a wide range of local services and telephone numbers. The project was sponsored by a local company and PPG members distributed the directories across the town.

Could your PPG fundraise for a local voluntary or charity organisation which is relevant to the practice? There are a variety of fundraising activities including bring & buy book sales in the practice reception area, coffee mornings, charity bazaars, 100 clubs, quiz nights, raffles or simply having charity tins in the Practice. [link to stour surgery & Tollerford examples]

How can PPGs help practices?

PPG lanyards/identity badges – Some PPG members come into contact with patients during their activities. It’s important that they are clearly identifiable so having a badge or lanyard which is of the same design as practice staff does the trick. Many simply have the word “Volunteer” or “PPG Member” clearly displayed, others have a full photo-identity badge.

A Christchurch PPG member attends the Practice on a weekly basis to show patients how to use the self-check-in machine which gives patients the confidence to use it unaided for future appointments. This helps reduce queuing time at the reception desk.

PPG members can help improve patients’ experience of visiting their Practice by reviewing public areas and highlighting any improvements that could be made. A PPG in Bournemouth has members who regularly walk-through the surgery to ensure that all areas are dementia friendly and accessible to all patients. They also check that literature and posters on display are up to date and relevant and that patient newsletters & comments/feedback forms are fully stocked [check with emma first!]

With the advancement of technology, especially with tablets and smartphones, there are a growing number of ways in which patients can communicate with the Practice and engage with other areas of the NHS. Some PPGs members are happy to support fellow patients either individually or as part of an event, to get online access to their patient record enabling them to manage their prescriptions, appointments and test results remotely.

The National Association of Patient Participation (NAPP) is an organisation that supports patient groups and provides resources and forums to enable PPGs to better support their patients. Funding for NAPP membership is provided by negotiation with individual Practices.

Every GP Practice will have a regular Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection to evaluate the service being offered and suggest improvements. As part of this inspection the CQC normally likes to seek feedback from the PPG. Practice managers frequently invite their PPG to be involved.

Identifying and treating high blood pressure can prevent serious health issues. PPGs have worked with their practice to help promote the use of blood pressure monitors which more and more practices now have.

Practice websites are an excellent source of information about healthcare and practice services. They should be a good and user-friendly sites. Regular PPG reviews can ensure content is relevant & up to date, that hyperlinks direct the reader to the correct place and that PPG information is prominent. A practice could be alerted about incorrect or out of date information.

A great way to get new PPG members up to speed is to give them a welcome pack. Some groups provide an up-to-date list of PPG members, staff members at the practice, a synopsis of the PPG along with a brief description of PPG projects. Groups have also included details of previous agendas and meeting minutes, so the new member(s) get a better understanding of the group. [link to welcome pack in templates section – TBC]

What do patients think?

Getting feedback from patients is a good way to find out how they feel about the practice and can be used as a basis for a discussion with the practice during PPG meetings. Find out if your Practice has a suggestions/feedback box in the surgery, if not, consider working with them to get one installed. Once a feedback/suggestions box is in place encourage the surgery to promote it. [link to feedback form] Feedback gathered through the practice Friends and Family Test could also be used. (link to Malcolm case study)

Asking patients specific questions about your practice or one of the services it delivers, is an excellent way to understand how patients feel. Feedback can help guide service improvements. The CCG can work with PPGs and their practice to create surveys. For more help and information on how to go about this email communications@dorsetccg.nhs.uk

Growing the practice virtual PPG (basically an email list of interested patients) is crucial in helping the practice share important information and seek the views of their wider patient base. Several PPGs have created their own online membership forms that comply with current GDPR legislation example [insert link to membership form]

All important feedback can be obtained in a number of ways including via Google and NHS Choices. Can your group look at increasing levels of online feedback by promoting these methods at the practice? It could lead to the reputation of the practice being improved or identify issues that need addressing. One West Dorset PPG produced a feedback card with the link to one of the feedback tools [image of feedback card] to encourage patients to get involved.

Most Practices receive complaints, your surgery will have a robust policy in place to review them and take action where necessary. Complaints can be an excellent way for PPGs to see how patients feel about different aspects of the Practice and can help the group raise questions with the surgery. Many PPGs ask their practice to provide a summary of complaints to identify any trends.