Whose Shoes - an innovative approach to coproduction
The ‘Whose Shoes?®’ approach, created by Gill Phillips, is an engaging approach to coproduction, used in over 80 NHS trusts, universities and more.
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Whose Shoes is equally powerful in all areas of quality improvement as it focuses on people and what matters to them, rather than defining people by a medical diagnosis or set of circumstances. It brings humanity back into view, alongside process and systems.
Google ‘Whose Shoes?’ and you will find a flood of passionate people making positive change across many topics, ranging from dementia care to maternity services; social prescribing to cancer services.
The approach combines an engaging board game, using crowdsourced scenarios and poems, and an influential social media presence, connecting people nationally and internationally: changemakers who are stronger together. Check out @WhoseShoes.
The poems are highly creative – quirky, thought-provoking and very powerful. They spark many ‘lemon lightbulb moments’ as, for example. healthcare professionals realise the impact of language or power dynamics which may never have occurred to them previously.
The maternity work in the West Midlands is a microcosm of the wider work. Gill partnered with the West Midlands Clinical Maternity and Neonatal Network to run a series of 19 Whose Shoes workshops across the West Midlands –improving both maternity services and perinatal mental health services.
Together with visual recording associates at New Possibilities and strong technical support, Gill has developed #VirtualWhoseShoes which has enabled the conversations to keep going during the pandemic.
Gill facilitated an engaging all-day Zoom workshop with parents and staff at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS, keeping the conversations going during Covid-19, helping build relationships and make progress in the light of the Ockenden investigation. Gill ran an equivalent session with East Kent maternity team and is helping these two teams connect at all levels – imaginative peer support for bereavement midwives and Continuity of Carer leads.
The common theme is people feeling empowered to take action, without asking for permission, cutting through silos and hierarchies, bringing everybody together as equals.
Co-production in practice is exactly what Whose Shoes represents, and I am so proud of you Gill and of course your small extended team of facilitators and graphic recorders. I am yet to use, play or see anything that tops (or even comes close to) Whose Shoes for co-producing services that people genuinely need and want.
Alison Waters, Programme Manager at Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network
How did the Innovation Exchange help?
"Winning the Meridian Innovation and Improvement champion award through the West Midlands AHSN is a great boost, alongside our NHS England, HSJ and ICiPS recognition. It is exciting that an approach which does not set out to tick boxes – is indeed now ticking boxes at a high level. Thank you!" Gill Phillips
Impact & Outcomes
We have been quite maverick in our approach to collecting 'evidence'.
We deliberately do not count pledges made at our workshops but are more interested in the results, some of which take months or even years to come to fruition - for example, the Whose Shoes approach to coproduction was used particularly powerfully in Liverpool (across Alder Hey Hospital and Liverpool Women's Hospital) and proving that they were listening to and working with all stakeholders was a key factor in a successful business case to build a new neonatal unit.
We typically use videos and Steller stories to share success stories. These are being collated on our website www.nutshellcomms.co.uk but the 'Overview of Whose Shoes' Padlet shows many of the wonderful outcomes and ripples: https://padlet.com/WhoseShoes/overview
In addition to the booklets of case studies (see above) this blog 'What have the Romans ever done for us?' dips into some of the key outcomes of #MatExp Whose Shoes - but much more has happened since this was written in 2018:
What have the Romans ever done for us? – #MatExp – Real evidence! As at end 2018 – Maternity Experience
London Ambulance Service have worked with Gill Phillips to run workshops looking at the role of coproduction in emergency services in three different areas: maternity, mental health and end of life care. Each has led to real action; LAS were either winners or highly commended for HSJ awards in all three areas (2020).