The Health & Quality Safety Commission New Zealand commissioned Ko Awatea, an innovation and improvement centre, to deliver a co-design programme to nine teams of healthcare providers. The co-design programme was part of Partners in Care, a broader programme developed in 2012 to support and enable patient engagement and participation across the health and disability sector. In the current programme teams received training, guidance and mentorship in Experience Based Design (EBD) methodology through a one day masterclass, seven WebEx sessions, coaching calls, email and through the completion of workbooks. We evaluated the co-design programme to explore the experiences, challenges and solutions that participating teams encountered while engaging with patients in their projects. The evaluation involved seventeen semi-structured interviews with programme participants, including seven team members, five sponsors, four patients and the programme facilitator. A further two team members provided feedback in written form and eight of nine teams provided completed workbooks. Data from the interviews and workbooks was thematically analysed. Health professionals identified key challenges to patient engagement as capturing diverse experiences, clear communication of project details and the availability and health of the patient. Patients advised the importance of improved communication, planning in advance and providing feedback and assurance about the value of their contribution. There are several important considerations to secure and maintain patient engagement in co-design. These include tailored strategies for approaching patients and capturing their experiences, pre-existing relationships and continued rapport building between patients and health professionals, good communication throughout the project, planning, and visibility of outcomes.

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