Taunton racecourse was the setting for the launch of our innovative #MatExp Whose Shoes work in the south-west of England. Five sessions getting everyone together discussing how to improve maternity care – and coming up with pledges and solutions!

I had my #MatExp necklace and my four new badges. Thanks Flo!

I need earrings too. Apparently! πŸ‘πŸΌ

Such a beautiful view from the toilet. "I might be a while..."

It was good to meet Lee who had worked hard to pull the event together. This photo deserves a caption competition. I have no idea what we were saying! πŸ˜‚

After sorting a few minor bits and bobs, the going was good…

WhoseShoes is very simple but it was good to have a quick run through with the table facilitators.

I enjoyed learning more about the 'early adopters'. Somerset is one of seven sites in the country who are leading the way in implementing the national 'Better Births' programme and have made a film about this.

Ann Remmers leads the Clinical Network, South West region . Ann was determined to bring Whose Shoes to her region and we found a way of making it happen, drawing in the movers and shakers prepared to try an authentic coproduction tool.

Whose Shoes is very flexible - for example discussions can focus on different topics. Postnatal care is a key topic for Somerset and one of the main themes of 'Better Births'.

It was good to see people responding well to our 'in their shoes' empathy film, made in partnership with the London Clinical Network after our original Whose Shoes pilot workshops.

I always love telling people about #MatExp and bringing new people into the fantastic inclusive 'no hierarchy, just people' community. Health warning: you will end up on Twitter if you come near me! πŸ‹πŸ‹πŸ‹

And I love introducing everyone to all the crowdsourced scenarios & poems. Whose Shoes is proving to be a great way of getting healthcare professionals to really listen and understand the things that matter to people.

And now we are expanding our work through our 'Nobody's Patient' project and strong link to the Maternal and Neonatal Health Safety Collaborative. We were honoured to run #MatExp Whose Shoes workshops as part of the launch event in London recently.

These are the key resources to help people drive improvement: a toolkit with loads of top tips and ideas, the empathy film which has been shown at events around the world & 20 best practice case studies.

Soon the conversations were underway. A great mix of people in the room: women and families and healthcare professionals, talking together as equals, united in their passion to improve maternity care.

In Whose Shoes sessions, people are never defined by their professional roles. "No hierarchy, just people" is our mantra. But I know how much people in senior positions value getting the chance to listen to women and families speaking so openly and honestly about their maternity experiences - and probably talking about their own!

Everyone seemed happy. πŸ˜€

I like to join in the conversations where I can. But there were only a couple of tables with a free chair. I don't like to interrupt the flow of intense and important conversations.

There were some strong messages about involving Dads.

The whole room was buzzing! If we can get all these people tweeting as part of the #MatExp community too... Wow! Such incredible potential.

I also try to ensure that the key issues and best ideas are captured on post-it notes for the graphic illustrator...

How's it going, Carrie??

Daunting! Imagine all these amazing people having in-depth discussions and bombarding you with Post-it notes. But Carrie is like Anna Geyer... cool as a cucumber!

I asked Carrie if she was short of post-it notes... Err, no. πŸ’₯πŸ˜‚πŸ‹

Which brings us neatly onto the pledges. We always challenge people to think what they will do differently...

As usual, there was no shortage of ideas. Everyone was buzzing!

What a great idea! SallyAnn is going to write a 'Handy hints for surviving hospital' guide. For families or staff? I suspect both! ⭐️

We added a new variation bit of fun as people made their pledges, thanks to our new badges from our 'Nobody's Patient' wrap up event! Thanks Flo!

Julian had come all the way from Cornwall. I suspect we'll see him again on 9 June when we're in Cornwall! He should have had one of our #matexpontour badges. Next time!

It was wonderful to see the commitment to keep the energy going and implement the necessary changes.

People crowded to get a close-up look at Carrie's wonderful graphic record – and take pictures!

And it is always good fun to watch Carrie apply the finishing touches...!

Wow! πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

Lots of follow-up work to be done, pulling all this together into the new Local Maternity System. And most importantly, acting upon all the fantastic pledges!

Hoping that the trusts in the south-west who have signed up for Whose Shoes will continue to find it an invaluable tool as they move on with implementing 'Better Births'. Shout if you need help - loads of lemon lightbulb tips in the toolkit! πŸ’₯πŸ‹πŸ’‘πŸ‹πŸ’₯

Sandy is going to be running our session in Swindon 28 June - the last of this initial series of workshops in the region. It is brilliant when people take the trouble to come along to an earlier session. They 'get' it. It helps them identify their own local challenges and how Whose Shoes can best help them. They will probably get going with Twitter in the meantime too, if they are not already tweeting… πŸ˜‰

I missed my #MatExp 'partner in crime', Flo Wilcock. Hoping Flo and her #FabObs friends can help us get more obstetricians on board in the south-west. We need to get everyone involved - seeing why 'maternity experience' is important and an integral part of safety.

Well done the Somerset team! 🐎🐎 They have got us off to a racing start in the south-west. I think Bristol, 4 May has also got very good odds. Join us!

Everyone agrees there's never been a better chance to improve maternity care in England. It is high on the government agenda and there is so much passion at grassroots level and amongst healthcare professionals.

It is all about connecting with people who share your passions and making things happen! Helping women and families feel valued and able to have a birth that is not only safe but delivers (excuse pun) the experience they want.

If we are going to improve health care, where better to start than at the beginning. Children are our future – and they can't thrive unless we support the whole family.

Have courage!

And watch this space πŸ˜‰

nutshellcomms.co.uk matexp.org.uk

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