Reflections from Health Services Research UK Conference

13 & 14 July 2016, Nottingham Conference Centre.

The CLAHRC East of England’s IMPRESS (IMPRESS: Researching the Implementation and evaluation of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in CLAHRC East of England Research.) study benefited from two PPI co-researchers (Penny Vicary and Amander Wellings) and this conference was the first opportunity that we’d had to co-present results from the study at a large national health conference.

One of our PPI co-researchers, Amander Wellings, and I had worked with our colleagues at University of East Anglia and honed the presentation slides on email, but the first time we actually got together to discuss the presentation was the evening before the conference in the hotel where we were both staying.

I’d planned and written out the whole presentation word for word (not leaving anything to chance!), embellished and then got myself in a complete panic about everything I had to remember. Amander was cool and calm and very experienced at presenting, she said ‘whatever will be will be, just go with the flow’. I smiled and nodded but inwardly my demons were gnawing away at my insides.

The next day came, the sun shone and smiling care-free delegates thronged to the conference. Presentations were executed seamlessly and all I could think of was ‘the afternoon’ and ‘3.30pm’. Around 2pm I admitted to Amander that I was a bag of nerves and didn’t know what to do with myself. She smiled and said ‘well let’s run through it again quietly in that corner’ and we did, over and over again until it felt better. She advised me to cut it down, keep it focused and not to deviate.

The presentation was as seamless as everyone else’s. A triumph.

As Amander said, we were a team, I wasn’t there on my own and I didn’t have to worry alone. PPI representatives are our ‘critical friends’ during the research, but they are also friendly colleagues who provide help and support to us when we need them. How fitting that the message of the presentation that day was about building relationships between PPI representatives and researchers. These relationships are built on trust and mutual respect and this experience was evidence in practice. Thank you Amander.

Amander Wellings contact details:

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