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This blog is jointly written by Dr Nicola Small (SPCR Fellow), Ms Rebecca Jones (patient and carer partner, and PRIMER corresponding member), Marie McDevitt (patient partner) and Michael Molete (carer partner)

the experience of my involvement was empowering at best, the epitome of professional, patient and carers working in unison! - Mike

Virtual SAPC North 2020 was our first conference attendance and presentation since establishing the EMPOWER partnership, funded by Nic’s SPCR Launching Fellowship 2020. In brief, the EMPOWER study aims to revitalise patient empowerment patient-reported outcome feedback in primary care for older people with, and/ or affected by, managing multiple long-term health conditions. Our working methods involve, significant virtual patient and carer and public involvement, and engagement (PPIE) work running throughout scoping review and co-design activities, to inform some much needed early intervention work in this area.

Our PPIE group for EMPOWER encompasses nine patient, carer and public partners, diverse in demographic and clinical (number and type of physical and long-term health conditions) characteristics, enabling digital inclusivity and health literacy, and empowerment. We are also supported by PRIMER a well-established group at the Centre for Primary Care and Health Services Research at The University of Manchester.  Finally, we are partnered with some lovely researchers at Manchester (Dr Brian McMillan and Professors Peter Bower and Caroline Sanders) and Keele (Professors Carolyn Chew-Graham and Joanne Protheroe) who have shared research interests and clinical expertise.

By attending SAPC North as a group of four - Nic, Rebecca, Marie and Mike - we hoped to spark curiosity from the SAPC community, and encourage more partnership working in primary care. All our PPIE partners contributed to the abstract which, to our delight, was accepted for a digital three minute poster pitch with a one-page slide.

How we co-developed a digital person-centred poster pitch

The pitch was simple to co-write as we knew our key message: that a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ to empowering patients through information-giving doesn’t work for this population. Further, there is a practical need to embed more conceptual thinking through collaborative working to capture the sense of self in person-centred primary care.

The digital poster

Poster which Nicola Small presented at the SAPC North

Working together virtually, as a group of nine, we used email, zoom, phone, Microsoft office, and shared space in google for images to prepare the poster. We chose holistic photographs by Rebecca, and art work by Marie that captured ‘empowerment’ in this population. Together, we decided on a lay message and an academic title for the poster, as well as a flower emblem as a metaphor for the EMPOWER partnership.




Tips for co-preparing and co-presenting digital poster pitches

  • Get lots of views on content and design - expect to co-create many versions!
  • Use a lay message as well as an academic poster title
  • Are your key messages clearly explained? Ask others…
  • Be mindful of the text size on laptop/iPad screens. Leave at least 16 points for your poster text. Check, is it truly accessible? Can screen readers use it?
  • Leave plenty of white space
  • If you use colour - use complimentary colours and contrast colours e.g. minimise yellow on white – there are lots of apps with colour schemes ready to use
  • Work as a team during the pitch, be ready with links and extra details to add to the zoom chat box and follow-ups
  • Check your technology is noise free, your battery is fully charged and Wi-Fi connection before the event

Our co-delivered pitch - Championing the Patient Perspective

Nic’s pitch went well, she gave a good overview of our work, pointing out the hidden meanings behind each visual, the flower emblem and the meaningful partnership to EMPOWER. Nic really appreciated the support given to her on the day by her patient partners as they tackled the Q&A chat function in zoom during her pitch. Rebecca also appreciated this ‘it was great to see my fellow public contributors from the EMPOWER project giving helpful advice in the chat and commenting on researcher's work’.

Afterwards, Marie joined Nic and Carolyn in the breakout room to discuss the merits and challenges of virtual partnership working - the merits won! Rebecca and Mike were in another breakout room with two poster presenters and senior academics; Rebecca said ‘they listened to our comments and suggestions in breakout sessions with respect, and we had some excellent conversations with poster presenters about their plans for research. Plenty of advice from us about reaching patients, carers and service users too’.

At the end of a brilliant day, Nic was awarded ‘Primary Care Champion’. The SPCR wrote a short news piece on our prize to celebrate!

A SAPC North online abstract book with a DOI was soon published and the poster book was emailed to all attendees, including our patient partners.

Marie summed up her experiences ‘I enjoyed the talks of the key presenters, the poster presentation pitches and the breakout sessions. I thought the event was very well organised’.

Mike felt ‘the experience of my involvement was empowering at best, the epitome of professional, patient and carers working in unison!’

Carolyn reflected: ‘SAPC N 2020 was one of the highlights of what has been in a tough year for most of us, thanks to Professor Joanne Reeve and her team at Hull/York Medical School. It was a great day, the technology worked (mostly) and we didn't hear too many expressions of "you're on mute". Dr Small's presentation was exceptional (despite her over-heating laptop): her discussion of patient-reported outcome feedback for older adults was supported by lay participants, who also, I think, enjoyed the conference. I feel privileged to be supporting Nic in her SPCR Launching Fellowship’.

Prof Joanne Reeve commented ‘This year's SAPC North was all about engagement, and doing things differently. As part of that, we were delighted to welcome a range of new attendees to our regional conference - including public partners for two of the presented projects. We will certainly be looking at how we can continue to welcome these important voices in to our conversations at future meetings’.

We look forward to attending as a group to further virtual conferences in 2021!

PPIE blogs of interest to this blog