What do we do first?

Conversation starter: Linsay Cunningham 

Linsay asked: if we want to create change and put our big ideas into action, what’s the first step? 

Over-planning isn’t always helpful. Planning can be the death of innovation! But some sort of loose plan is required to get our ideas off the ground. 

When you have lots of ideas, how do you prioritise? Could we create an innovation strategy to help us decide which to act upon? 

We agreed that the first step is to develop a brave vision, then get people to buy into it. Leaders can be risk averse and reluctant to step into the unknown. Are there any ways we could allay their fears? What if we could create a litigation fund to cover risk? 

Innovative ways to encourage children to eat healthily to combat future mental health issues and obesity

Conversation starter: Sarah Agar-Brennan 

Sarah is passionate about the power our diet has in transforming our health. We talked about the importance of instilling healthy eating habits in our children while they are at home with us. Even if they do go out of the window when they first leave home (!) they are more likely to maintain them later in life if they have grown up around healthy food and healthy attitudes towards it. 

We discussed the possibility of packaging a healthy eating campaign with other services that might appeal to parents of school-children, for example stopping smoking. 

Amber mentioned the ‘Grown Up in North Yorkshire’ project, asking children 6 – 18 years about their attitudes to healthy eating. They were shocked to find how many thought the word ‘diet’ related to skipping meals and diet culture, not simply a term for the food that you eat. It raised concerns about the increasingly early age we expose children to a warped idea of what food is for, and how this increases the likelihood of disordered eating. 

32% of 14-15 year olds in another survey had experienced excessive exercising or making themselves sick after eating. All very worrying statistics. 

Could social media influencers help by spreading a positive message? If it works to sell products, why not social messaging? 

Andrew suggested there are three key groups who need to be targeted: parents of young children, the elderly and young people. How do we target each group effectively? 


How do service-users influence the system when the system is not listening?

Conversation starter: Tom Bell 

Tom lives in a sparsely populated rural area. Due to his remote location, he struggles to access digital healthcare. He knows these services would be particularly beneficial to those in his community. But he feels nobody is listening. How can he (and we) influence the decision-makers to improve the system when it’s just not working for us? 

The group discussed campaigning, or taking agitative measures to get attention. 

All agreed it is indicative of a wider problem of services being overburdened in certain areas, and there being a lack of courage or vision to rectify the problem and funnel money to where it is needed. 

For example, when making a GP appointment, there is no mechanism to say ‘don’t come in’ if your ailment is not severe enough for GP attention – and yet we know that there are millions of unnecessary GP appointments made every year. 

Again, it comes back to fear of taking that risk. What if that ailment turned out to be serious? What would be the consequences for the service who had made that decision? 

We also recognised that public expectations of NHS services can be high for the money we pay. “We’re paying Ryanair fares and expecting to fly first class.” 

Andrew suggested that the system is, in fact, listening. It’s just that nobody can do anything to solve the problem. 

Tom posed the question: “Then how can we get the debate to the right level, and convince the right people that if you make these changes it will make you more efficient in the long-run, and it will actually save you money?” 

How do we stay better connected?

Conversation starter: Jessie Jacobs 

Jessie started this conversation because, although she feels very well connected in some areas of her life, in her work (the field of addiction and homelessness) she does not feel connected at all. 

Amber agreed that there is a disconnect between the services she works across. Could we create a digital link? 

The conversation turned from ‘how can professionals better connect with each other?’ to ‘how we can better connect with patients and service users?’ 

We are often so fixated on shiny digital solutions that we forget how much we need the human element. We need to work out what problems requires human ‘care’ and which are simply administrative tasks that can be solved with tech.  

Jessie said: “Technology should really free us up to have those more human interactions.” 

We discussed social/community GPs who prescribe social activities to those in their communities. 

Emma talked about connecting with your elderly neighbours, who may be unable to adopt digital solutions. Do the layers of safeguarding and bureaucracy prevent us from being able to help fellow members of our community in person? 

Sarah talked about an A.I smart-home for the elderly. The automation of the services inside the house had the potential by-product of keeping the resident better connected. 


Conversation starter: David Smith 

There are real challenges to accessing the data we need to make improvements to our services. How do we overcome this? 

We agreed there are cultural and practical barriers to accessing the data we need. We would benefit from a more transparent system. 

The conversation then shifted from retrieving data to service access in general. There are many processes within the health service that could benefit from digitisation – a central way to organise data. For example, GPs need to be contacted by phone, which takes unnecessary time out of everyone’s day. There must be a better process? 

We talked about vets digitising cat health records, making the healthcare process for your pet much smoother. But for humans it is still frustrating and complex. 

Tom suggested we are “captives not customers” of the health service. We don’t have any choice. 

The group agreed that the NHS has no competition, no need to evolve to survive. For example, when the directive came for GP surgeries to have email systems, many rushed out and spent huge amounts of money on CRM systems that were designed for other sectors and not fit for purpose. 

There is a reluctance to adapt and thrive which is borne out of an aversion to risk. 

How do you motivate someone to engage with digital health solutions?

Conversation starter: Ian McCardle 

Ian wanted to know how we can engage service users to get on board with digital tech. What are the obstacles, and how can we overcome them? 

We discussed service users becoming frustrated by failures of technology. An example was given of a compulsory app update that resulted in a crash, leaving users with no service access. This can be off-putting and lead to abandonment of tech – or failure to adopt in the first place. 

We talked about how those pushing digital solutions are over-focused on scalability and often overlook the need for relationship-level support. 

The power of the human factor cannot be underestimated. Users accessing a bricks and mortar setting may be benefiting from simple human interaction as much as the service itself. And when technology is implemented, many users will require in-person support in accessing it. 

It’s not as simple as leaving an iPad in a waiting room and expecting people to use it. 

Conclusions? Investing in human engagement is crucial to the success of digital tools. Your digital platform may be wonderful, but it should be part of a broader solution. When you combine the digital and the personal, you give your customers a choice about how to engage with your service. Then they are more likely to want to engage with it. 


What digital tools and resources have been developed/are in development to support the delivery of the care services of the future?

Conversation starter: Angela Thompson 

Angela framed the question in the context of the care sector. The organisation she works for supports 21,000 employers and organisations. They are struggling to recruit and train staff. It is a challenging backdrop – there is a huge demand for digital solutions to improve the current system. 

Maeve talked about how we might be able to better support leaders in the care sector in implementing digital technology. 

We talked about A.I solutions, how tech like Pepper the robot might work in a care setting. Funding would certainly be an issue for this type of project, but Angela mentioned they have trialled A.I to help prompt patients with dementia. Again, there is a big cost factor involved. 

Raising digital skills amongst the workforce is important, but worth remembering many care home staff won’t have access to a PC – it is likely to sit behind a door in their manager’s office. 

Ideally, some form of centralisation of communication between services would be beneficial. One way of connecting everyone, a single platform. There are so many local variations, processes are clunky. It would be simpler and more streamlined if everyone used the same tools.


Discussion turned to how you measure the success or failure of a project. Is that determined by the ones who hold the purse strings? It should be decided by everyone: managers, staff, patients and their families. “If you can enable someone to die a good death, then that is the most important thing.” 

Processes are complex, but fears around safety and risk have led to a reluctance to change. 

“Technology has not been embraced in the way it should be in this underfunded sector.” 


How can the health and care services extract value from the Chain Network?

Conversation starter: David Evans 

The Chain network is a collection of volunteers from a diverse range of backgrounds within the health and social care sector. Together they form a support network where they can help each other, and share ideas and knowledge. 

Membership is ordered by interest rather than role or sector, to encourage interaction in a “watercooler” way. It is a safe space with a flat structure, an environment where members willingly share their experiences regardless of title or position. 

Members choose to join because they want to share their experiences, so it is a rich source for health and care professionals to explore, and to connect within. 

David is keen to increase membership and spread the word to those working in health and care about this useful resource.   You can find out more about the Chain network at https://www.chain-network.org.uk/

Progress School Leeds

What Benefits Might Progress School Offer?

Support and Encouragement – While you may already have various types of support such as board of directors, consultants, trade associations, family and friends, mentors and so on, each of these has a particular agenda as well as differing levels of understanding, focus, and interest with regards to your development. Your peers at Progress School will focus on improving your success via honest, unbiased feedback and consistent encouragement.

Growth – Some people say “if you’re not growing you’re dying.” Progress School drives both your personal growth and the development of your projects and interests. It provides an environment that fosters and encourages continuous growth.

A Safe Haven – By engaging with a group of your peers in an environment of mutually agreed to confidentiality, a trusted circle develops. You can expect to forge long-lasting relationships with other members that will continue to enrich your life outside of Progress School meetings.

Space to Think – Ever month Progress School will provide you with 2 hours to sit back and think. You strategic sanctuary in a busy world.

Unbiased Feedback – Where else can you currently go to consistently get unbiased feedback from a diverse group of your peers regarding your biggest issues, challenges and opportunities?

Advice and Guidance – At Progress School you will have the opportunity to learn from others who have gone before you in some areas as well as provide guidance in other areas where you have specific knowledge and experience.

Creativity Factory – Even when you are not able to directly benefit from the experiences of other members, you can certainly benefit from the creativity and diversity of ideas generated through brainstorming and sharing opportunities.

Group Wisdom – By joining a group of people united in their shared pursuit if progress you will have access to a much wider range of perspectives, opinions and ideas

Group Learning – While you will bring pressing opportunities and challenges to each meeting, you will learn as much, or more, by listening to and supporting other members in addressing their opportunities and challenges. Every topic or discussion represents an opportunity to learn or support learning.

Accountability – Consistently maintaining and demonstrating personal accountability is a hallmark of effectiveness. Your Progress School peers will support this by helping you maintain focus and follow through on your commitments.

Sharing Resources – Just as you are you know stuff, so do your peers. By sharing your best resources with other Progress School members, everyone benefits.

To register for Leeds Progress School click here

Conversations to transform health and care – Scarborough 11th July

We are holding a series of FREE events to bring together people who know and care about

  • how health and care might be improved (patients, clinicians, carers, charities, social enterprises, local authority staff and others)
  • how digital and technology can be used to improve health and care (technologists, data experts, service designers and others)
  • how worthwhile ideas are supported with time, money and know-how to bring them to life

We will bring to the events people who know and care about the use of digital and technology to improve health and care services and who are looking for people and ideas that they can help to support as necessary

In short we are bringing together

  • people who know about what needs to be made better in our health and care work and
  • people that know how to use technology and digital services to make this happen and
  • people with the resources to support the work.

These free to attend events will provide you with a friendly and effective space to meet the people that can help you make things happen.  Although we will start with lots of talking and meeting people we will soon move on to the question of ‘what might we get done together that we can’t struggling to do alone?’

You might choose

  • to bring an idea or project of your own that you want some support to make happen,
  • or to look for other people’s ideas that you want to support.
  • or to come along to find out what this is all about

Whatever your reason we would really like you to join us!  We can promise you a friendly, inclusive and potentially very powerful few hours.

Lunch is included, the venue is fully accessible and a short walk from the train Station. Please let us know if you have any additional requirements when you register.

We’re interested to hear if you’d need a creche facility to enable you to participate, contact us if this is relevant to you.

Still not sure?

If there costs associated with coming to the event make you think twice, do drop us an email and we’ll see what we can do