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Personal stories focus delegates on human-centred care at the UCLPartners Education Conference

16 October 2015

This year’s UCLPartners Education Conference, held at the Royal College of GPs, focused on educating for patient-centred care.

A strong theme running throughout the conference was that from a clinical perspective, patient-centred care can often be improved by simply listening to individual patient’s needs and concerns. Below are a few examples of how this theme was explored in creative ways during the day.

Chickenshed – a north London theatre company who create inclusive education activities up to degree level – contributed to the discussion on patient-centred care through several dramatic scenes taken from real-life experiences of patients and clinicians. Some of the storylines were inspired by the actor’s own experiences. Through the use of voiceovers, physical theatre and spoken dialogue the company showed informative and emotive examples of how estranged a patient can feel. Some of the audience were brought to tears by these performances.

There were nine workshops on a variety of subjects, ranging from commissioning to a discussion on compassionate patient care. These sessions provided space for more in depth discussions and a more intimate environment for the delegates to discuss their own experiences as clinicians and/or patients. One of the workshops, run by Sonia Kneepkens (Experience Designer, Innovation Unit) and Fiona McKenzie (Patient Insight and Involvement Lead, UCLPartners), on patient experience involved sharing both pre-prepared stories and the delegates personal experiences to focus a discussion around “human-centred care”. On a screen in the room was a quote by Maya Angelou: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” The quote resonated with the delegates’ discussions in the room, and talks that took place throughout the day.

One of these talks was an inspirational lecture by Dr Clare Morris (Academic Director, St Andrew’s Healthcare and Senior Tutor in Medical Education, University of Cambridge). Clare is used to speaking from the perspective of her clinical and educational experience. However, for this conference she spoke about her experience as a patient after an unexpected illness led to a lengthy hospital stay. In her brave and unconventional lecture Clare showed slides of family photos, and a picture of the first cup of tea she had after five days in hospital. Clare spoke about how she felt that (in the main) she wasn’t treated as an individual; it took two weeks before any of the clinical staff found out about her line of work. She said, “I’m Clare, I’m a patient, I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m not a diseased pancreas”. She did highlight an exemplary example of patient care, however, when a junior doctor (who was not assigned to her care) came to speak to her for 15 minutes every day to check how she was doing.

These personal stories were key to considering how to speak with patients. Person-centred care is about remembering that a patient’s needs are individual and can only be fully understood by listening to them (or us because everyone is a patient at some stage).

Find out more about UCLPartners’ Education programme at