As a Patient Leader, Consultant and Researcher, Simon Stones attends on average 50 patient engagement events each year. Unsurprisingly, his seven years of experience in the field was invaluable when it came to evaluating patient engagement initiatives for the Book of Good Practices. 

He explains his motivation for becoming a BOGP reviewer: “I wanted to help celebrate great examples of how to engage and involve patients and carers while championing the sharing of knowledge to inspire and empower others to do the same,” he says.

Stones says he was very impressed by the quality of the projects submitted for review by himself and his peers on the evaluation team.

“Overall, it was refreshing to see so many great examples of meaningful involvement of patients and carers, with some new approaches shared, which is always interesting to review,” he noted.

In terms of submissions, not all fit the bill; Stones believes there may still be discrepancies when it comes to a precise definition of what exactly constitutes patient engagement. 

“There’s still some confusion over what actually is ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’, and so we must proactively help colleagues to understand first what we mean, and secondly how to go about engaging with patients and carers,” he explains.

However, the patient leader found the review process largely straightforward, although he had some suggestions for how it could be improved as the project continues.

“The review is timely – especially when you need to review all of the materials to be able to make a meaningful assessment of the entry. Responses also had to be given in a spreadsheet, so it would be easier if future reviews were offered in one platform, where you could review, annotate and score at the same time, on one screen.”

Stones concluded by offering future applicants some advice on what to include in their submission; he would prefer to see ample detail but provided in a clear and concise format.

“There’s a fine balance between being concise and providing too little or too much information. Ensure applications address the background, aim, activity, assessment and impact of such engagement and involvement. Honesty is also really important, especially for enabling others to learn. Most importantly, please go for it – it’s so important that we share the knowledge!”