Q Lab: Project Two Workshops

In 2017, the Health Foundation and NHS Improvement launched a bold new approach to making progress on health and care challenges – bringing to us The Q Improvement Lab (Q Lab, for short)!

The Q Lab focuses on specific health and care challenges and brings together organisations and individuals, to pool what is known and uncover new insights and ideas.

Cynergy have worked alongside the team to design, plan and deliver events over the last two years and have witnessed how the initiative has created an opportunity for experts, leaders and patients to come together, breaking down geographical, organisational and professional boundaries to tackle complex and shared challenges experienced within the health and care system.

Q Lab works on a single challenge for 12 months and since September 2018, they have been working on Project Two: Mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain. This is a project in partnership with Mind, a mental health charity, that focuses on the experiences of people living with both mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain, and how care can be designed to best meet their health and wellbeing needs.

As part of the project, two sets of workshops were organised to bring together over 125 Q Lab participants to understand the topic and develop and test ideas, before they finally share their findings. Cynergy acted as a bolt-on to the Q Lab team to support their activity planning, event management, onsite delivery and creation of workshop materials. Our ultimate goal was to ensure the Q Lab team were confident, prepared and equipped to achieve the best possible results in terms of feedback, discussion and networking.

In February 2019, the first workshop was held in Birmingham with the aim of sharing their research, evidence and stories about why this topic is important and the impact it has on people’s lives.

A second set of workshops were held later in the year (September 2019), with one based in London and the other in Manchester, to bring the learning to life and give Lab participants and Q members the opportunity to think about how it can be applied to the everyday challenges people face when providing or accessing care.’.

 

Throughout each of their projects, it is important that we work closely with the Q Lab team to truly understand their goals and objectives for each phase of workshops. An initial call and meeting were set up to discuss their expectations in terms of outputs, deliverables, budget and overall setting for the day etc.

From this we developed a timeline which provided realistic and timely deadlines for all activities in the run up to the event, allocating responsibility between the client and ourselves.

With regular catch up calls to ensure all parties were up to speed with the progress of activity and understood the next steps, a Planning Summary document was also created to record every detail, activity, decision and action - offering a one-stop, high level summary of the project. This could be accessed by all interested parties at any time to get an ‘at a glance’ snapshot. This then transferred over to the Operational Schedule, detailing an in-depth, step-by-step guide for staff onsite and ensuring all tasks were assigned to the right person during the right time point of the event.

 

As a national project with members nationwide, the Cynergy team recommended sourcing a venue within one of the UK’s larger cities (i.e. Manchester, Birmingham, London), allowing for greater accessibility and ultimately driving bookings and engagement.

Cynergy worked to pull together a variety of suitable venues for each Q Lab event, providing a cost comparison to ensure the client was getting the best value for money as a charity in the health sector.

Following a shortlisting of potential venues, site visits were scheduled to check out the spaces and envision the logistics of the day.

Once a venue was selected, a face-to-face meeting was set up with the Q Lab team to understand how they wanted the day to run, taking into consideration how they wanted delegates to feel and to take home from the sessions. From that, we made suggestions to enhance the delegate experience and provided ideas to facilitate networking on the day and beyond, e.g. providing business cards for each delegate on arrival to share with others they wanted to continue conversation with.

Cynergy regularly liaised and worked closely with the venue’s operations team to ensure all plans were set in place and they had prepared the correct function sheet in line with our Operational Schedule – meaning all room logistics, AV, catering and registration areas were set up in advance and delivered in line with the client’s requirements.

On the day, the Cynergy events team welcomed delegates, managed registration and workshop materials (e.g. posters and handouts), and liaised with the venue to ensure the day ran as planned so that the Q Lab team could focus on delivering their sessions and enjoy the day with their delegates.

As networking is at the core of each Q Lab workshop, Cynergy also designed and provided personalised badges and business cards for delegates to share with one another. This helped to break down any barriers and encouraged people to connect beyond the confines of the Q Lab sessions.  

 

The Q Lab and Mind’s work with organisations and individuals to develop and test ideas has been a great success so far. As a result, four teams have been awarded grant funding from the Health Foundation and NHS England/Improvement to build on their learning and continue to develop their interventions in practice.

Through their workshops they have brought together and learnt from over 125 lab participants in the last 12 months and with the support of Cynergy they have been able to foster an environment of inclusiveness, open communication and trust to achieve the best possible outputs.

Read the live blog of their most recent Q Lab workshops here!