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CommonHealth Assets

The CommonHealth Assets Lived Experience Panel: Update on delivery, progress and impact

14 Feb 2024 | Mohasin Ahmed

In this blog, Mohasin Ahmed updates on how the learning from the mid-way evaluation of the CommonHealth Assets Lived Experience Panel is driving engagement with the Panel and research team, and how the impact of being a Panel member is being captured.

Following the mid-way evaluation of the Lived Experience Panel which I outlined in my last blog, areas for improvement were identified, relating to the strength of the Panel’s involvement in different parts of the research project, and in the representation from different study sites. This learning encouraged us to seek out further opportunities to engage with the Panel on different components of the research and to recruit a new Panel member from our Bournemouth/Dorset site, all ahead of the fourth Panel meeting which took place in Belfast in October.  

This meeting coincided with in-person Project Management Team (PMT) meetings in Belfast in the days prior to the Panel meeting.  Planning the Lived Experience Panel (LEP) meeting to coincide with the PMT meetings enabled the research team to work directly with the Panel on fresh issues and ideas. This included bringing together discussion, examination and thinking on the programme theories, and shaping and testing the topic guide being used for participant interviews.

Following the LEP meeting in Belfast in October, Panel members attended the full research team meeting held online, in early November. This enabled them to be directly involved in conversations and decisions relating to the project. This was important in cementing and recognising the role of the Panel as an integral part of the wider research team, reinforcing that the expertise that they bring is as valuable as the researchers’. During this meeting the Panel agreed to co-create an output for community audiences to share learning from the project in a way that will support and benefit our partnered community organisations.

Capturing the impact that involvement in the LEP has had on members is also very important to us. Case stories can be used to share insights and encourage others to get involved in research, but also for practitioners to reflect and learn about what factors can create a mutually beneficial experience when engaging with communities in research.

A recent case story with one of our Panel members, Robert*, reveals the significant benefits that he has experienced from being involved in the LEP and the CommonHealth Assets project. Specifically, he found great benefit in connecting with others who had faced similar challenges to himself and found purpose through becoming more involved in his local community, where he has now created his own men’s support group.

The Panel has helped me to come out of myself, it has helped me to control my nerves and to grow as a person. Talking to others who have experienced similar things made me feel like I could overcome the issues I had. It made me realise that everyone goes through things.  I have started a men’s group at [community centre]… Being able to do this was because of hearing how [another Panel member] did it and being gently pushed by [the project researcher]…

I feel a sense of belonging now, and I feel like I am good enough to do things now. I couldn’t see beyond session-by-session but now I see the outcome from the process.

(Robert*, 42, based in London, member of LEP)

The full story of Robert’s journey of being involved in the CHA Lived Experience Panel can be read in this case story.

As we move into the final year of the CommonHealth Assets project, we will continue to work closely with the Panel and research team to further improve the engagement process and to advocate for ongoing LEP involvement in the research process, especially as project findings come to the fore.

We will continue to capture and share learning from the Panel and the impact that the Panel has had on the project, and the individuals who engage with us, and who share their valuable insights and perspective.

The next Panel meeting will take place in Bournemouth in Spring 2024.

* Name changed.

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