Taking patients’ views into account is one of the most effective ways of making continuous improvements to the day-to-day operations of any hospital.
That’s why North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has taken the step of appointing its first co-production and lived experience lead.
Kenneth Achinewhu, 31, has taken on the role which involves working directly with patients, carers and people with lived experience – people who have used any of the Trust’s services or have, or support those with, any health conditions.
He aims to ensure the organisation learns from feedback from the community about their experience of care. These experiences and learnings will be embedded throughout the Trust’s work, informing improvement activity at all levels.
Kenneth, who is originally from Nigeria and has lived in north east of England since 2020. He said: “My siblings and I grew up as orphans. The support we received from people and services helped us to progress in our career and life. It gave me a passion for supporting people. When you are supported and you’re seeing the benefit, you want to give that back to others.
“This new role is all about working with people to understand how to best provide a health or care service that meets their needs. We want to embed best practice, collaborate, build partnerships, engage with people and also empower the population we serve.
“You can’t work for people without working with people.”
Kenneth will be working directly with the population of the Tees Valley, as well as local voluntary and community organisations. The ultimate goal is to co-design hospital and community services to ensure their needs are being met.
“Come and get involved”
In the coming months, he is looking to build an ‘involvement bank’ – a pool of patients, carers and people with lived experience to offer their insights and expertise to create meaningful changes at the Trust. He is also leading the implementation of the Trust’s new patient engagement and experience strategy.
Kenneth added: “I really would like to ensure equality and diversity and focus on the hard-to-reach groups with the aim of reducing health inequalities as we draw from our people with lived experience, their wisdom and also expertise. We want to continuously involve them as partners in our work.
“I absolutely encourage the community we support to come and get involved. We will work with you to identify potential barriers hindering your involvement and also empower you to become engaged in your own healthcare.”
With a background in counselling and health education, Kenneth holds a diploma in social work. He was awarded a prestigious foreign postgraduate scholarship which saw him relocate to the UK and complete a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Sunderland.
He was previously employed at Northumbria University where he worked with experts by experience and partners to build community assets and partnerships to reduce health inequalities and disparities around homelessness and people with co-occurring conditions.