Top five tips for facilitating public involvement

By Rosie Davies, Research Fellow (Patient and Public Involvement), People in Health West of England

Get any group of people together and you can be sure there will be different views and personalities. In public involvement meetings we love those different voices, however, in order to allow everyone to be heard, not just the loudest person, some facilitation skills are required.

At People in Health West of England (PHWE) we offer a half-day ‘enhancing facilitation skills’ workshop to help people run meetings about health issues with patients and members of the public. The workshop is run by Rosie Davies; Research Fellow at PHWE, and Cathy Rice, a member of the public who has been involved in health research.

Here Rosie shares her top tips for facilitating public involvement groups.


On 19 June Cathy and I ran our popular ‘enhancing facilitation skills’ workshop with participants coming from a range of backgrounds including researchers, public involvement staff, voluntary organisations and the public sector.

During the informal and interactive workshop we covered; considering what’s important for members of the public attending meetings; agreeing ways of working together; thinking through different aspects of the facilitator’s role; as well as adapting facilitation style to suit different situations.

Our top five tips for facilitating public involvement are:

1. Agree ground rules

Agreeing ground rules helps to shape expectations and support you and the group to stay on track. It can also build trust and provide a reference point if you need to challenge behaviour later on.

2. Co-facilitate with a public contributor

Having a member of the public as a co-facilitator or co-chair helps to create a sense of shared ownership and ensure that acronyms and buzzwords are avoided.

3. Stay focussed

It is important for you in your role as facilitator to keep the group on track and manage contributions effectively. That means stimulating constructive and focussed debate whilst allowing everyone to have a voice.

4. Be prepared

Having a good meeting includes planning in advance, following up and feeding back afterwards, as well as work during the meeting itself. Think about what is important to the group members, from clear directions to the venue to post-meeting debrief and support.

5. Manage different behaviours

Strategies to cope with different behaviours and vulnerability are useful to build your confidence. During the workshop we share real life examples and discuss various strategies and techniques to ensure all group members can contribute to a successful meeting.

Very friendly environment and facilitators were very good and friendly 😊

The fact that the trainers had ‘lived experience’ of mental health and health issues [worked well]

Really good workshop – very well modelled!

I feel more confident about facilitating

[I am] so pleased for tips on how to deal with different personalities. This is great – not just for facilitating!

Participants at enhancing facilitation workshop June 2019

Here are just a few of the changes participants are going to make as a result of attending the June workshop:

  • Get better on ground rules now I know what they’re for
  • Try to be more reflective when faced with different situations as a facilitator
  • Use volunteers to co-facilitate
  • Think about how I can provide feedback to [public contributor] members more effectively
  • Plan for better pre-event communication and make a checklist for facilitating
  • Ensure that…public contributors…have opportunities to co-chair

Would you like to learn more and build your confidence in facilitating public involvement groups? We are holding another workshop on Wednesday 9 October in Bristol. You can sign up here.

Read more

Would you like to have a say on how new surgeries and surgical devices are tested and implemented?

Closing date: End of August

For: All members of the public although specifically relates to those with an interest in or experience with surgery, be they patients or carers

What: Before new medicines can be introduced into clinical practice, they undergo rigorous testing and this process is highly regulated. New medical devices are also regulated before they can be widely used, though ways of assessing their safety and performance vary, and standardisation of what is reported is also lacking. New surgical procedures are, however, even less regulated. There is uncertainty and inconsistency around what outcomes should be monitored and reported to evaluate them, which can compromise patient safety. The aim of the COHESIVE Study is to develop reporting guidelines and a core outcome set (COS) for new surgical procedures and devices. A COS is an agreed minimum set of outcomes that are measured and reported in all new surgeries. This study is being conducted by the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre and is part of a research agenda which aims to develop better methods for selecting, measuring and reporting outcomes of surgical innovation. It is essential that the views of consumers are at the heart of this process.

When: The NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre would like to record opinions across three online consensus surveys sent out over a few months. You can access the first survey here and each survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Where: Online

Expenses: There is no payment available for this study

More information: Please visit to find out more and complete the survey

Read more

Do you have experience of accessing NHS services to help you lose weight?

Closing date: 16 September 2019


  • People who have experience of accessing NHS services to help them lose weight (weight management services*) OR
  • People who have experience of caring for someone who has accessed NHS weight management services.

*NHS weight management services could either be those accessed through a GP practice (in primary care) or hospital-based specialist weight management services (including bariatric surgery).

What: Researchers from the University of Bristol are setting up a study to investigate how people get access to NHS weight management services, particularly specialist (hospital-based) weight management services, including bariatric surgery. An introductory meeting is being held where you can find out more about the study and comment on the current study plan. There will be opportunities for ongoing involvement in the project.

When and where: The meeting will take place on Monday 23 September from 11am-1pm at a central Bristol location. A light lunch will be provided.

Expenses: Travel expenses to attend the meeting will be reimbursed (please keep receipts), and participants will receive a £50 love2shop voucher for their time.

For more information: Please contact Karen Coulman on (anytime) or 0117 42 83132 (after 19 August) if you would like to attend the meeting or if you would like more information.

Read more

NIHR Future-Focused Leadership Programme is open for applications

The NIHR academy have recently announced that the NIHR Future-Focused Leadership Programme is open for applications. The closing date is Friday 9 August at 1pm. For the first time, applications from public contributors involved in strategic activities in the NIHR are invited.

The new Future-Focused Leadership Programme enables you to develop your capabilities and effectiveness as a leader by identifying and reflecting on your strengths and areas for development. To join the programme, you will be a current leader based within NIHR or delivering a national role for NIHR. This could be as a public contributor involved in governance and leadership. You will be developing into or taking up leadership roles at the senior level, facing significant leadership challenges, where support will be most needed and impactful.

The programme will enhance skills in leading across organisational boundaries, leading strategy and change and influencing others to achieve the strategic aims of NIHR. Alongside your existing experience and leadership skills, the Future-Focused Leadership programme will provide time for reflection, refreshing existing skills and learning new ways of working which will support:

  • On-going self-awareness and recognising the impact and influence leaders have
  • Cross departmental collaboration with senior leadership
  • Creating an impact across the wider system
  • Developing team members and emerging leaders to maximise their potential.

This application window will be for the first two cohorts of the Leaders stream; Cohort 1 starts in late September 2019 and cohort 2 in January 2020. The third cohort is anticipated to start in January 2021 (with applications in summer 2020) so there is a further opportunity to participate at a later date.

This prestigious 12-month programme will consist of a blended learning approach, including face to face workshops and virtual, online sessions.

Further information on the format and content of the programme and how to apply is now available at

If you have any questions please contact

Read more

Have your say about mental health and wellbeing services

Closing date: Midday on Friday 9 August

What: The Independent Mental Health Network are seeking to understand people’s experiences of accessing mental health support in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire areas to guide the development of services to better meet needs.

For: Anyone who may have accessed mental health support, attempted to do so and / or is a carer or family member or friend or professional for someone with lived experience of mental health support. If you have both personal and carer experience and wish to provide feedback from both points of view then please complete the survey separately for each perspective.

Where: The survey is online however if you require the survey in an alternative format, please contact

Expenses: As a thank you for completing this survey, you will have the opportunity to be entered into a prize draw to win one of 15 £25 One4All gift cards. Five winners will be selected from each of the three areas (Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire). Please note you will be required to leave contact information to be entered into the draw.

More information: Click here to find out more and take part in the survey.

Read more

Study into parts of the brain that are involved in vision and memory

A student on the MSc Biomedical Sciences Research course at the University of Bristol is looking for healthy participants under 65 for a study into parts of the brain that are involved in vision and memory.

Closing date: Recruitment will end by Friday 9 August 2019.

For: All members of the public aged between 10 to 65, with no visual or neurological conditions.

What: The study involves a 20-minute MRI scan and a 15-minute visual memory test. The aim is to have the MRI scan and visual memory test done within 1 hour.

When: Within the next few months.

Where: All testing will be done at the Clinical Research and Imaging Centre in Bristol, University of Bristol, 60 St Michael’s Hill, Bristol, BS2 8DX.

Expenses: No payment is available for this opportunity but participants are welcome to take home a MR image of their brain.

More information: If you are interested, have a read of the study information sheet and complete the MRI initial screening form. This form is to ensure that potential participants qualify for a scan but please note that answering ‘YES’ to any questions would not necessarily exclude you from the study. If you have read the information sheet and are still happy to take part, email the completed screening form to Cecilia Jobin N.B. Please leave the witness signature blank.

Read more

Services for people with muscle or joint problems

Closing date: 29th July 2019

For: Anyone interested in services for people with muscle or joint problems. If you have experience of muscle or joint problems that would be great, but it is not essential.

What: The First Contact Physiotherapy in Primary Care (FRONTIER) study is looking for one person to take part in a one-off discussion event about services for people with muscle or joint problems.

First Contact Physiotherapy is where a highly skilled physiotherapist works within a GP practice and sees patients with muscle or joint problems without them having to consult a GP first. The FRONTIER study is performing an evaluation of this service. As part of the study, the study team have developed a number or theories about how and why First Contact Physiotherapy may work or not work. These theories have been developed by talking to those involved in providing or using the service and by looking at currently available literature on the topic.

The FRONTIER study team are looking for one person to take part in a one-off discussion event to discuss these theories. During the discussion event, the study team will present the theories and then will ask the group to discuss them and provide feedback on them. The theories will be edited based on the suggestions made by the group. The group will include about 20 people including the study team and patients, physiotherapists, GPs, commissioners, practice managers, and reception staff.

When: The discussion event is being held on the 8th August 2019 between 9.30-12.30.

Where: The discussion event is being held at the Engine Shed, by Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station.

Payment: Travel expenses will be reimbursed and drinks and snacks will be provided

More information: If you are interested in finding out more about the study or getting involved please contact Rachel Thomas on: or 0117 32 88790

Read more