Introducing Lived Experience Partners at the HIN

March 23, 2023

In 2022, the Health Innovation Network launched an Involvement Strategy that represents a refresh in thinking and effort to co-produce health innovation. Part of this strategy was a new Lived Experience Partner role and we are delighted to have successfully appointed two partners, Faith Smith and Aurora Todisco. Faith and Aurora are working with us to advise on involvement activities within our projects, expand our community networks and support other experts by experience and service users who work with us. Their role is fundamental in supporting us to embed involvement within our organisation.

As people with extensive experience of the health and care system and involvement activities in this space, our partners are looking forward to bringing their specialist knowledge to the table and informing the development of our co-production work. Faith has worked with local and national involvement initiatives including being on the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) involvement register which focuses on mental health. In this role she regularly provides staff training and supports recruitment processes. More recently, Faith has supported the development of the Seni Lewis Training Programme for SLaM staff to prevent and manage challenging behaviours in the mental healthcare setting.

I'm very much a people's person, and I think a lot of what I do is because I want others to be empowered to have their voices heard.

- Faith Smith, Lived Experience Partner

Faith is no stranger to the HIN, having already worked with us on our Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme, and she is delighted to be able to share her expertise at a more strategic level.

Aurora has also previously worked with us and was part of our lived experience reference group who helped to develop our Involvement Strategy. When this new role was introduced, Aurora saw a unique opportunity to use her personal and professional experiences to help inform future engagement activities.

In this role I'm focused on drawing upon my lived experience to deliver healthcare services from a local and neighbourhood level.

- Aurora Todisco, Lived Experience Partner

Aurora has extensive experience of supporting involvement work locally and nationally, and since 2021, she has shared her own lived experiences and taken part in over 350 co-production activities and engaged with over 70 national stakeholders. Her professional background, which covers finance, HR and governance development also complements the role. She currently works with Local Voice, a user-led charity that delivered the service provision for local Healthwatch organisations across north east London and supports resident voices.

Having started their roles in February, our partners have integrated seamlessly into our organisation and are already in high demand for their expertise. Highlights so far include Faith supporting a workshop developing an e-learning for the Eating Disorders Transitions national programme and advising on focus groups for our HEAL-D programme that addresses Type-2 diabetes health inequalities.

Aurora’s work has included taking an active role in our experience-based co-design (EBCD) project, which launched as an expansion of our work to help people manage chronic pain, for which she helped co-ordinate a patient-facing workshop in March. She has also given advice on involvement approaches for our Innovation for Healthcare Inequalities Programme (InHIP) with NHS England and has been attending the HIN Patient Experience Champions Club, a space for HIN staff to share their experiences of involvement and learn from each other.

Both Faith and Aurora are keen to ensure their role has an impact locally at the HIN as well as on a wider scale.

I'm keen to explore the importance of shared learning and take-up of research , recognising people's different experiences and ensuring that improvements are tailored to specific populations.

– Faith Smith

I'm looking forward to helping the HIN become an evidence-led organisation with strong links to the community, represented by people with lived experience.
– Aurora Todisco

Involvement is still a relatively new and developing area in the health innovation landscape, and we are hopeful that our approach to it will help to establish a model that can be applied in other health and care organisations. We are proud to be partnering with the people who lie at the heart of the healthcare system first, and hope that this is one way we can make our engagement more accessible, comfortable and a truly safe space for everyone involved. We are keen to be transparent and share both the challenges and successes of our approach, so please get in touch if you would like to hear more.

I wish to be seen as a critical friend around the table where we discuss health care improvement and innovation, helping to keep track of changes and impact at governance level.
– Aurora Todisco

I feel very welcome at the HIN, and confident in the fact that my contributions are valued and taken seriously.

– Faith Smith

Find out more

If you would like to know more, please contact Sophie Lowry, Implementation and Involvement Manager.

Get in touch