This month sees the Patient and Client Council celebrate its 10th Birthday. Achieving this significant milestone has not been without its challenges and we certainly would not have made it this far without you, our members. Here are some personal stories from people who have become involved with our work at the Patient and Client Council and other health and social care services as well as some interesting facts about the PCC.
Joan McParland is the Founder and Voluntary Coordinator for Hope 4 ME & Fibromyalgia, Northern Ireland
Joan was hit with sudden viral onset of ME in October 1999. Through personal experience Joan came to understand the need for improved services and support for ME sufferers in Northern Ireland. Joan said:
‘There was a lack of awareness and education about M.E. in Northern Ireland and no specialist NHS services. Despite campaigning for recognition since 2009, no progress was made until the charity approached the PCC in 2013.’
Before becoming involved with the ME & Fibromyalgia Focus Groups Joan worked as a catering manager for the Southern Education and Library Board since leaving college and had no experience of the health care industry.
Joan says of her experiences so far:
‘From our first meeting with PCC our concerns were genuinely listened to and acted upon, the outcome has surpassed our expectations! A new NHS Care Pathway is under development for fibromyalgia and new specialist M.E. service are shortly to be announced for the 7000 M.E. patients in N.I., who previously had no specialist NHS input or support.’
Justin Greenwood is a member of the Bamford Monitoring Group (BMG).
The group was set up in response to the need for better legislation and monitoring of mental health services in Northern Ireland. Justin is not a health professional and had no professional experience before volunteering to become involved. Justin is now involved in a strategic area of work for the Bamford Monitoring Group and provides input from a service user perspective.
Justin already harboured a keen interest in mental health services and the Bamford Monitoring Group was an ideal opportunity to become involved in the hope of making a difference and improving the experiences of service users.
Justin says of his experience of involvement with the PCC and the BMG:
‘It is very interesting but can be difficult at times as you are in an NHS environment. You have to be knowledgeable about some of the terminology and mind-sets as you are interacting with the professional circuit.’
The PCC provides Involvement Workshops for those interested in getting involved in decision making within the health and social care sector. These workshops are designed to assist and prepare members to help them converse and take part in meaningful debate at board level. If you are interested in attending one of our workshops please contact Jessica.Murray@hscni.net.
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