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What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

A healthcare and media narrative previously judged parents to be too quick to access emergency care and so overload services. Overnight, the COVID19 pandemic, turned this message around to say the opposite.

During the pandemic it became clear parents and carers (henceforth Guardians) were generally making very rational decisions about the care of their ill or injured children. While concerns were raised during lockdown about children’s access to acute healthcare, and Emergency Department attendances fell significantly, there hasn’t been a reported excess of mortality or morbidity.[Roland 2020]

Our partnership is between existing research groups (ASK SNIFF), health networks (Healthier Together), and Health Care professionals who successfully engage with public media (Chris van Tulleken and Guddi Singh). We have a vision to empower Guardians with medical information they can safely use to manage their children; with this collaboration having already produced widely accessed and tangible outputs during lockdown (see video link).

What does your project aim to achieve?

There is now an urgent need to co-create specific evidence-based resources with Guardians, which empower them to make safe decisions about the care of their ill or injured child.

Underpinned by evidence from the applicants’ previous work on resource development, health literacy and identification of at risk groups, we will emphasise the “green light” features which a parent can be reassured by.

The aim is to produce open access audio-visual resources with a theme of empowerment, differing significantly from current resources which focus on severe illness recognition. The objective is to support Guardians to understand their instincts are generally correct about their children and, as we found during lockdown, that they can make pragmatic and safe decisions about if, and when, their child needs more urgent attention. These resources will be distributed via the wide networks the applicants are engaged with, including the Royal Colleges, Health Education England and others.

How will the project be delivered?

This project involves established Q community members working with collaborators experienced in cross system working, or with access to high profile and effective professional and parent networks. Money will not be needed for individuals’ time but to develop resources, specifically the parent facing videos, and support parents in helping engage with, and comment on, the material produced. Available networks and established connections will be utilised to ensure there is no unnecessary waste, costs or duplication.

The applicants have a track record of producing research and media materials to time and target including impactful projects with videos (a collaboration with the Health Innovation Network reaching 37k views) with the ability to link to organisations (such as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) to push reach even further.

The applicants recognise the diversity of the population they are aiming to reach and will ensure resources can reach multiple different communities.

How is your project going to share learning?

The project has two phases

A co-production phase will involve parents (accessed through the applicants’ associations with organisations with a strong reach to Guardians) or Q community members who are parents. We believe this process in itself will be a valuable learning exercise in aiding Q members to understand their own decision-making processes.

The production phase, the generation of audio-visual materials, will be shared via the applicants’ large networks across a variety of social media platforms. Royal Colleges policy leads, some of whom are Q members, have already expressed an interest in our work and links with Health Education England are being established.

We aim to develop a community of practice of clinicians, professionals, parents and others who would like to help create a new dynamic in communicating with the public based on the principle of empowerment. We believe this will aid other specialties as well.

How you can contribute

  • Do you have access to a parent group, specifically for under-served or hard to reach communities?
  • Are you a Q member who is a parent or carer for a child? Can you let us know if you would be interested in commenting on or piloting materials?
  • Do you work in media, marketing or communications, or know someone who does, who can assist with messaging?
  • Are you linked to a region with a strong paediatric strategic plan we could utilise?

Plan timeline

1 Oct 2020 Project scoping and reach
19 Oct 2020 Addition of pre-submission comments via social media and Q forum
20 Oct 2020 Submission of final project to Q
8 Jan 2021 Promotion of project if shortlisted
1 Mar 2021 Collaboration with major stakeholders to confirm support in kind/practice
1 Mar 2021 Set up virtual Parent and Professional Panel Groups
14 Mar 2021 Commence Virtual Focus Groups to seek feedback on good practice
1 May 2021 Interpretation of Virtual Focus Group data collection
9 May 2021 Where required sense checking of Focus Group findings
1 Jun 2021 Development of co-produced scripts and story boards
1 Aug 2021 Filming and other media production
1 Sep 2021 Review, refinement and sense checking of resources
1 Oct 2021 Release and dissemination of materials

Project updates

  • 23 Sep 2021

    Mid Year Update:

    What have you learned so far, either from the successes you have had or from where things haven’t gone to plan?

    The huge surge in Paediatric cases summer hasn’t helped the timelines of  the project but has demonstrated the real importance of this work.

    We have also had a delay in that it was felt formal ethics was needed for the parent and carer questionnaire phase of the project. This took a couple of attempts to get through the project lead’s University Ethics Committee but this has now been granted. We are sadly 2-3 months out of phase as result of this. During this period it was also note the preferred supplier of a video questionnaire solution was not actually performing as expected. We have therefore moved to a Google Forms model. This link can be used to review the current survey (but please DO NOT share)

    What could others learn from your experience of working with a range of stakeholders and collaborating across boundaries (geographical, professional, sector) – including what is working well and any challenges you have faced?

    The project team are a diverse group of professions but this has resulted in challenges in bringing people together given the ongoing pressures of the pandemic.

    What are the next steps for your project over the coming months?

    The plan once the survey is finalised is to share the link via the project teams social media and other networks.

    How can the community get involved in your project?

    We would like to utilise the Q community as well and host a real time focus group where we run through the survey and facilitate responding to the questions. We feel that while the survey responses will be useful – additional feedback directly to us would be beneficial. We will also need the communities help in distributing the survey to as many colleagues with children (<5) as possible and to share in their own networks.

  • 19 Feb 2021

    The project team are very excited to have the opportunity to take this work forward – thank you Q Exchange/Health Foundation

    The protracted lockdown will effect timelines as a fundamental component of our work is working with parents and carers who will be required to feedback on draft videos.  However we are excited that some newer materials from the Operation Ouch team are now available – we’ve 5 short videos on common conditions for children (with their families to watch!)

    Adjusted Timelines anticipated to look like:

    March 2021

    Collaboration with major stakeholders to confirm support in kind/practice

    March/April 2021

    Start Setting up virtual Parent and Professional Panel Groups (including to understand challenges to doing this in peri-lockdown world)

    May/June 2021

    Virtual Focus Groups to seek feedback on good practice

    July/August/September 2021

    Interpretation of Virtual Focus Group data collection and sense checking

    Development of co-produced scripts and story boards

    October/November/December 2021

    Filming and other media production

    Review, refinement and sense checking of resources

    December/January 2021/22

    Release and dissemination of materials

    We continue to seek interest from stakeholder groups who can reach parent and carers but also would love to receive example of media based safety netting and clinical advice we can use.

  • 23 Jan 2021

    Thank you so much to the Q Community for giving us this opporunity.

    Some ‘Operation Ouch’ resources can be found from this twitter thread and Healthier Together website


    1. Thanks Elizabeth - really looking forward to working on this with the team!

  1. Dear Damian and team,

    This sounds like a brilliant idea. It is important during COVID that parents and carers have access to clear and appropriate information. I am part of a regional paediatric network in Thames valley and would love to support /collaborate on this project.

    We are currently involved in a project to improve collaboration and digital integration between primary and secondary care for managing people with complex conditions. We have applied for the Q exchange this year, if you want to have a look.

    1. Thanks Sahana - would be great to have Thames valley support. Will have a look at your project!

  2. Guest

    Hi all. I'm part of the project team for this project aiming to help mums with breastfeeding support during social distancing. I like the focus of your project - empowering parents to trust their instincts. What are the parameters of your target group? Are you targeting parents of new/young babies? I wonder if there is an opportunity for collaboration.

    1. Thanks Sian - I am sure there is some synergy here. The aim to support parents of 'children' which definitely includes infants! We could certainly provide some support to debunk som feeding issue myths. Our aim is to really provide support for parental instinct (and avoid being another site that directs people to help - that market is clearly needed but is also relatively well covered presently). We should certainly touch base about this.

  3. Hi. I'm working with the Health Foundation to support collaboration amongst members during the Q exchange process.  Your idea sounds great and fits very much with other proposals around supporting patients/parents with information to help them manage their own health. It might be worth looking at some of these to see if there are opportunities for support or collaboration- one is called Podcasting for health and there is another around interactive maternity care for teenage mums. There are quite a few other ideas around parents, children and maternity that may also be of interest. If I spot any other possible links I'll be in touch. Kind regards, Emma

    1. That's great Emma - thank you will have a look!

  4. Damian, let me know if RCEM can help.

    1. Thanks Sam. That's great. Will be in touch...

  5. I like the idea of this strength-based approach - building on parent's own instincts and skills rather than negative deficit-based marketing. I look forward to hearing more about your idea.

    1. Annabelle, thanks this is exactly what we want to do. Most parents make the right decisions but probably after lots of thought, discussion and consulting Dr Google and we would like to make this easier and as Sarah said also add skills. If the work is funded we will be asking many of the parents on Q if they would be able to help as 'critical friends' looking at the content

    2. PS Please can you you click 'Like' on our project page to reflect your comment? Many thanks


    3. Many thanks Annabelle. It is so important to take a positive enabling approach. We think our resources will also help health professionals support parents and at the same time also enhance their skills in childhood illness too, especially in those areas of the NHS where people often have not had paediatric training.

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