Are You Writing/Updating A Policy?

Is your NHS Trust or organisation updating its ‘Obesity in Pregnancy’ or ‘Management of the obese pregnant woman’ policy? About time too, if those are the titles (which they often are)!! Have you been tasked with the job of updating a policy? Are you looking for Big Birtha’s input? Excellent, you’re in the right place. Read on for more info!

Stack of Files

Nothing About Us Without Us

I’ve written before how important Patient and Public Involvement is. Involving people with lived experience in whatever you’re doing, be it research or governance, is essential. What better way is there to ensure that the wishes and needs of people concerned are fully considered, than by consulting them?

With policies, even though the intended audience isn’t the general public, it’s important to set the correct tone and wording. Patients do seek out and read policies for themselves from time to time! But more importantly, the language and attitude will filter down to your staff, either consciously or subconsciously. This in turn will trickle down to patient care.

Outdated, judgemental, and patronising attitudes and terminology are sometimes easily missed by professionals concentrating on clinical care. Less so by the patients themselves. Words and attitudes have the power to heal. They also have the power to hurt.

Big Birtha is happy to help, if you’re seeking a lay reviewer. I have over a decade of experience of this kind of thing now. However, before you send a request (to me or any other lay person!) like this one I received recently:

I have attached a first draft of our updated guideline. I wondered if you have time to give it a quick glance please

Please consider what it is you are requesting. If you want a ‘quick glance’, are you genuinely interested in my comments? Or are you essentially asking me to rubber stamp the document? If so, you’re asking the wrong person! Its not a ‘quick glance’ type of task. As a rough reckoner, the last policy I reviewed took around 2-3 hours. It takes time to do properly, and I wouldn’t consider that I’d taken my role very seriously if I’d done any less. I want to do the job justice!

Other things to consider

I already fund this site myself and support members for free. I have no capacity to take on extra unpaid work, however well-intentioned! Rather than impinge on my (or other lay people’s) goodwill, please check out NIHR’s guidance on reimbursement for lay contributors, and seek advice from your organisation’s or institution’s finance and human resources (HR) departments before recruiting a lay reviewer.

It may be that people higher up in your organisation don’t think it should be necessary to pay someone. If so, please consider forwarding them the NIHR’s guidance on reimbursement for lay contributors to read!

If involvement is not to be tokenistic or exploitative, that means respecting lay contribution in terms of time, effort, and remuneration. Are staff reviewers expected to do this essential work in their own time/at their own expense? Why should a representative of a marginalised group be considered worthy of less?

Handy Tips

I’ve already written 8 tips here on How to Be a Plus Size Friendly Professional. You might find reading that helpful before you get started reviewing any old policies. Language and what is acceptable and unacceptable changes rapidly. It’s likely that whatever you’re looking at will require substantial edits. So thank you for taking on this essential task, and if you’ve read this far, for taking the assignment seriously!

How to get in touch

If all this sounds good, I’m happy to help! Please feel free to contact me with your query, using the button below.

Leave a reply here to get involved!