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Q Lab workshop, Birmingham

What is the Q Lab?

The Q Lab offers a bold new approach to making progress on health and care challenges. Like Q, it is delivered by the Health Foundation and supported by NHS Improvement.

Working on a single challenge for 12 months, the Lab brings together organisations and individuals from across the UK to pool what is known about a topic, uncover new insights and develop and test ideas.

For a more comprehensive overview of the Lab, read our ‘What is the Q Improvement Lab?’ essay.

Alternatively, watch our 90-second video:

What methods does the Q Lab use?

The Lab draws on approaches and tools from quality improvement, and disciplines such as social innovation and design. By using a range of methods means that we use approaches that are best suited to the outcome that we are trying to achieve.

We also draw on Q’s Creative Approaches to Problem Solving resources and Liberating Structures tools.

What does the Q Lab hope to achieve?

During the Lab’s first year an impact model was developed which identifies four direct areas of impact that we aim to achieve:

  • Build a deep and rounded understanding of the issue
  • Generate and test ideas for improvement
  • Develop skills and capabilities for action
  • Disseminate learning widely

If you’d like to learn more about what we hope to achieve and how we aim to achieve it, take a look at our ‘Impact that Counts’ essay – an overview of how the Lab seeks to support people and make change happen.

Is the Q Lab evaluated?

Yes, the Lab is evaluated by independent evaluators, who provide feedback and insights to help us understand how and in what ways the Lab is best place to support change

The Lab team have also developed internal evaluation processes to capture the learning and its impact; purposeful tools and actions that surface and record our learning to see how and where we are making progress on our project outcomes. For more information, take a look at the ‘Learning from the Lab’s approach to evaluation’ essay.

Who does the Q Lab work with?

There is a small, dedicated team that work on the Lab but collaboration is a central to its approach; working across geographical, organisational and professional boundaries to bring together a diverse set of people with relevant experience and expertise.

The Lab also works in partnership with organisations who bring expertise and are best placed to take forward ideas and insights that emerge from the Lab process. The Lab is currently working with Mind – the mental health charity, exploring how care can be better designed to meet the health wellbeing needs of people living with mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain.

How does the Q Lab decide which health and care challenges to work on?

The Lab draws on existing research and evidence, while also bringing in insights from a wide-range of perspectives. The Lab looks to identify a topic that is a high priority area, but also where it can make progress over the 12 months. It is a collaborative process, working with a range of experts, project partner(s) and other stakeholders, including Q members, to refine the topic area.

The first challenge that the Lab worked on was on how peer support could be more widely available to those who need it (April 2017 – May 2018).

The Lab is currently working in partnership with Mind – the mental health charity on how care can be better designed for people living with both mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain (September 2018 – current).

Why 12 months?

We think it is a good amount of time to invest in building a deep and rounded understanding of the issue, but to also then work at pace and build momentum to generate and test ideas for improvement and disseminate the learning more widely.

What is the role for patients and users?

The Lab is committed to working closely with experts through lived experience, who will have the opportunity to participate in all the Lab’s activities.

We recognise that there are financial barriers that can make it difficult for patients to contribute to additional pieces of work. To reduce this issue, the Lab will pay out of pocket expenses for patients and experts through lived experience working with us. Further details can be found in the Q Lab expenses policy.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to be involved.

If you have experience or expertise in the Lab’s current project, you can become a Lab participant – a diverse group of collaborators (including both Q members and people and organisations who are not part of the Q community) who work with the Lab to generate insights, develop and test ideas and contribute to sharing the learning widely.

The Lab also uses methods and tools to harness the collective intelligence of the Q community and members’ networks. We share these opportunities via the Q website, Twitter and our partners.

Is the Q Lab just for Q members?

No, you do not need to be a Q member to participate in the Lab.

The Q community play a key role and the Lab draws on members’ insights, expertise and experience. However, a vital part of the Lab methodology is to work with people and organisations from across a wide range of disciplines and sectors. Non-Q members (or people thinking about applying to Q) are very much welcome to be part of the Lab

Where is the Q Lab based?

Come and visit us here.