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Table 1 Lessons learnt: working with public contributors on an Experience Based Design project

From: Working with public contributors to improve the patient experience at the Manchester Clinical Research Facility: an evaluation of the Experience Based Design approach

1. Spend time building relationships within the group in order for members to feel comfortable expressing their opinions. This could include an ice breaker session or choosing team members who have worked together on previous projects.
2. Identify the different skills that each member can bring to the group and utilise these. This can help individuals to feel valued and useful.
3. Negotiate the level of involvement that is suitable for the public contributors and the specific project.
4. Training for staff and public contributors on EBD provides everyone with the information they need to co-design the project. This knowledge helps to address any power imbalance that may exist between staff and public contributors.
5. Identify additional training needs within the group. This may include written and verbal training on analysis or observation techniques. This allows staff and public contributors to be involved in all aspects of the project.
6. Consider the previous experience and level of education of the individual receiving the training and adapt the content accordingly.
7. Provide adequate time for each stage of the EBD project to ensure that public contributors and staff do not feel overwhelmed or overstretched by the workload. Discuss personal commitments and other deadlines that may impact on the EBD project when developing a timeline at the beginning of the project.
8. Develop a template for the observation task to increase the consistency of the data gathered.
9. Provide regular updates on how certain aspects of the project are progressing in order to maintain a feeling of momentum for all members of the team.
10. Identify an appropriate amount of time for members of the team to explore the patient stories and observations before holding a session to discuss the action plan.
11. A face to face meeting is required to discuss the findings of the project and work together to suggest actions to improve the service. We found that a group of four public contributors and six staff was a good number to allow a meaningful discussion.
12. Feedback should be given to those who complete any analysis or observation tasks, highlighting good quality work and any further training needs. Clear feedback is also required on how the public contributors have fed into and informed the action plan.
13. Thank public contributors for their involvement and highlight the value of their input.
14. Continue to involve and update public contributors on the impact of the action plan and the dissemination of the findings.