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Working on a single challenge for nine to 12 months, the Q Lab builds on existing knowledge to understand the challenge, develop ideas, test solutions and share learning.

Around the world social innovation labs are being established as a way of tackling complex challenges. All labs are different they use approaches from disciplines such as design and behavioural science and work collaboratively with diverse groups of people to create and test new ideas.

The Q Labs will combine these social innovation approaches with cutting-edge improvement research and collaborate with the Q community to test new ideas and share learning.

The first Q Lab will test whether a lab approach can work in health and care. The pilot Q Lab started in April 2017. If the Lab shows potential to make a difference, our ambition is to establish a small number of labs across the UK over the coming years. The pilot Q Lab is funded by Health Foundation and NHS Improvement.

The Labs aim to contribute to challenges that many people and organisations are grappling with, that will ultimately make a difference to patients and staff.

The Q Lab is:

  • Unique: Part of the Q community, the Lab is a great opportunity to test new ideas directly with people working in health and care, and to quickly feedback and share learning.
  • Experimental: We know of no other Lab combining social innovation approaches with improvement expertise and is part of a growing and thriving community.
  • Exciting: If successful, the Lab approach offers an alternative way of understanding and solving complex health and care challenges.
  • Collaborative: Collaboration is at the heart of the Q Lab, working with people from across the UK and from a variety of disciplines.

The labs story so far…

2015: During the co-design for Q, the idea for ‘improvement labs’ emerged.

Spring 2016: A small team was setup by the Health Foundation and NHS Improvement to develop how a Q improvement lab would work in reality.

May 2016: Early thoughts for how the Q Improvement Labs would operate were presented at Q community events in Leeds and London

Summer 2016: We connected with other labs across the world to learn more about the lab philosophy, how to setup a lab and work with diverse communities.

Autumn 2016: We received funding from the Health Foundation and NHS Improvement to setup a pilot Lab and test the model.

January – February 2017: 447 Q members were asked to vote on the theme the Lab should work on for the next 12 months. The theme ’empowering people to manage their own health and care needs’ was chosen.

March – April 2017: The Lab team moves into a new office at Kings Cross. We held a small workshop with a diverse range of people, including a number of Q members, to identify areas within the theme that the Lab could explore over the year.

April – July 2017: The Lab begins work on the first phase: Research and discovery. We conduct interviews, desk-based research and service mapping to understand the challenges and opportunities in peer support.

July 2017: Over 50 people attend a two day workshop to understand the opportunities to improve and scale peer support.

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