On Monday 30 November, staff from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust’s maternity department held an engagement event in Crowborough, to seek views on how the service can be developed and improved.

The event was attended by the Trust’s Chief Executive Glenn Douglas, Chief Nurse Avey Bhatia, Head of Maternity Services Jenny Cleary, as well as staff from across the Trust, staff from the East Sussex NHS Trust, service users and representatives from Birth Voices, a team of local parent representatives and health professionals.

The session centred around a game called ‘Whose Shoes’ which, through discussion of a wide range of topics and scenarios, helps participants explore key local issues and identify opportunities for development and change.

Themes from the discussions are recorded, as they progress, on a large display in text and pictures, and presented for all to see. This information can later be used to form action plans, co-designed between staff and service users.

Jenny Cleary said, “We were very keen to capture ideas of how to develop our maternity services and find out first-hand what local families and staff want.”

She added, “The game is fantastic at stimulating conversation and generating ideas which we can take away and develop further.”

Some of the topics discussed during the event included; understanding stillbirth, valuing staff, improving communication, developing community services, use of medical terminology, continuity of care, building relationships, self-preparation and different cultural groups.

At the end of the event, each participant was asked to write down a personal pledge which will help to encourage better quality care in maternity services.

Jenny said, “We, as a service, are really keen to integrate ourselves with other groups and events so that we can continue to seek feedback and suggestions from women and their families.

“We are now moving the service into the next chapter and, in order to continue to develop and improve, we recognise the importance of seeking input from those who use our services. Further Whose Shoes events will be planned and we are looking at other ways to engage with our communities.”

To find out more and keep up to date with the initiative, use the hashtags #MatExp and #WhoseShoes on Twitter.