Once you have service users ready to be involved in your activity, it’s time to think in more detail about what it is you want to find out from them and how they can tell you. The information below will help make sure you're fully prepared and have a successful event.
Picking the right questions
You need to re-visit your service improvement goal and establish what questions you need to ask of your service users to help you achieve that goal. Try to pick two or three key areas to explore, although each of these may have sub-questions or prompts to assist.
Also be conscious to choose questions that are appropriate for the overall approach you chose whenplanning the activity. For example, for an engagement event you should keep discussions quite broad, although for a focus group you can delve into issues in a little more detail. For an interview you are more able to broach sensitive issues.
Surveys and questionnaires
Although the primary focus of your work should be to open up a dialogue with your service users, in some cases you may wish to supplement your user involvement activity with a survey or questionnaire of some sort. This will allow for others to contribute their opinions even if they are unable to make your other activities or are short on time. Remember to keep it relatively short, easy to follow and ensure it has a clear flow to it. Remember that open-ended questions will allow for broader views to be put across, but will also mean that the information is more difficult to analyse. Download anexample service user questionnaire(Word, 108KB).
Whatever your approach, it's a good idea to write a plan. This is an opportunity to set out what each separate session is for, what will be discussed and the timings. This will organise your thoughts and useful for sharing details with others (eg colleagues involved in the process, table facilitators) so that they know what to expect. Download anexample facilitation plan(Word, 82KB) and anexample interview framework(Word, 108KB)
Tips for running sessions
- Don’t try to do too much – try to keep to 2-3 main items so that people have sufficient time to discuss issues and air their views. Avoid cramming in topics.
- Be imaginative in your sessions so that people don’t get bored. Mix it up so that different people are able to engage, for example:.
- If some people aren’t participating, ask everybody to write one thing down on a post-it note and place it on a flip-chart.
- Ask people to discuss in pairs and feedback to the table on behalf of the other person
- Get people to draw a picture to represent their experiences, or ideal service!
- Don't make it too complicated – be clear on what you are asking people to do, otherwise they may grow frustrated and switch off.
- Let the service users do the talking! It will be tempting to give a long presentation about the good work you're doing, but remember you're there to hear about their experiences. Keep introductory presentations to 10 minutes maximum – and remember to keep it simple and only tell them what they need to know for the session.
- It sounds obvious, but make sure you plan the things you will need on the day, such as refreshments, staff and equipment. Download ourevent checklist, which also include general tips (PDF, 300KB).
Be sure to get feedback n your activity from the participants. It’s important to understand how people found the event and whether they feel they had the opportunity to have their say. Download our example evaluation form (Word, 81KB). Further information on feedback is covered in the next and final stage of the user involvement process -review and evaluate.