EMPOWER Summer 2019 tour – your feedback!

This summer we completed a series events about digital mental health and the EMPOWER study. Peer Researcher Suzy Syrett, who led the organisation of events in Coventry, Edinburgh and Glasgow summarises delegate feedback.

Woah, October is here already?!! Our 2019 UK Summer Tour finished last month, and first up, we’d like to thank everyone who was able to attend one of our Knowledge Exchange events in Coventry, Edinburgh or Glasgow; you were all absolutely brilliant! We’re delighted to report that, over here at EMPOWER, something that’s helping keep the Autumn chill at bay is the news that we’ve reviewed all feedback from those events and wanted to share some of the main themes to come out of the events.

Professor Max Birchwood led proceedings at our first event in Coventry in July

Across all the events, our delegates were asked to comment on what they thought of “EMPOWER Now?” and how the study had worked. Next, “EMPOWER – Future?” offered people the opportunity to share ideas about how we might develop EMPOWER going forward as well as any potential areas of opportunity or concern that we should be considering too.

If we look at the “EMPOWER – Now?” feedback first, the main topics our delegates raised were around:

  • User/Clinician interaction: thoughts on how the EMPOWER app could positively impact on this crucial relationship
  • Inclusion/accessibility: the pros and cons of an app on a smartphone! How this could create barriers for some but for others, the opportunities to engage could be hugely improved.
  • Personalisation: the importance of making an app feel, as much as possible, like it’s been tailor made for your needs.
  • Benefits: an incredibly broad array of ideas were shared as to how the EMPOWER app could benefit the lives of its users.
  • Peer Support: the positive impact the Peer Support aspect of EMPOWER brings to users.
Delegates recorded flipchart feedback on EMPOWER Now and Future

The “EMPOWER – Future?” feedback brought a slew of thoughts and inspired suggestions of where we might go next with EMPOWER, as well as raising some important points about what we should definitely avoid. Two broad categories emerged, the first being “Development of the EMPOWER app”:

  • App format – ideas: How we might improve the functioning and appearance of the app to offer the user a better experience and increased opportunities to personalise and engage.
  • User impact and accessibility – ideas: the importance of personalisation, the potential for increased self-management and plus the potential for other beneficial innovations via the app.
  • Peer Support: how we retain this going forward and its central role in EMPOWER.
  • Self-monitoring wellbeing: the enormous potential this has to benefit the user, and in lots of ways, plus why ensuring app users must have control where all aspects of monitoring are concerned.
  • EMPOWER app and beyond – future app development: how broadening the format of the app might embellish its acceptability and increase user engagement.
  • Concerns: data ownership and privacy were major themes as were the barriers a smartphone format might bring to some. The cost and burden of EMPOWER to the NHS plus worries about an app replacing human roles within CMHTs.

The second category was “NHS implementing EMPOWER” and the following areas of discussion were offered by our delegates:

  • Effects on clinicians: suggestions that EMPOWER might be a better way for clinicians to stay in touch with an app users’ wellbeing. And that the EMPOWER app might be something mental health staff might want to use themselves to stay well.
  • Implementation demands: it would be crucial to the success of EMPOWER within the NHS for Peer Supporter roles to be created and funded. Increases in transparency of information sharing between app users and clinicians and finding acceptable ways for all to better understand that information within the app e.g. graphs and data.
  • Cost and data security: there were concerns around the financial sustainability of EMPOWER and whether the NHS would be responsible for providing phones and other related expenses. The security of data stored on phones and confidentiality of that info were also raised.
  • Potential for broader implementation: Our delegates explored ideas for wider implementation of EMPOWER and suggestions like linking it with GPs and gathering intersectional data to give a broader, more representative picture of people’s lives were offered, as were ideas around how EMPOWER could be linked to current NHS systems and clinical records.
There was no shortage of ideas for next steps with EMPOWER

A huge thank you again to everyone who took part in our knowledge exchange events. We have submitted a more detailed report of event feedback to our study funder along with findings from the main trial and previous qualitative work. This will be used to inform any future developments of EMPOWER. If you would like a copy of this more detailed report on our Knowledge Exchange activities do get in contact with us.
And wait, there’s more to come!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be uploading a series of videos featuring members of the EMPOWER team and you’ll be able to hear much more about how EMPOWER came to be, how EMPOWER 1.0 was received and what thinking surround both that and the future of EMPOWER.

So please, grab some snacks, get comfy and stick along for the ride. It just wouldn’t be the same without you.