Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner are directors of Pilgrim Projects Limited, an education consultancy specialising in the development of high quality open, distance and e-learning programmes across a range of sectors; they are also co-founders of the Patient Voices Programme, established in 2003 in response to the urgent need for better communication and understanding of all healthcare stakeholders’ experiences of care. Bringing the ancient tradition of storytelling to life via new technologies, the programme offers new possibilities for involving and engaging patients, carers and service users, clinicians, managers and leaders as a means of bringing about transformational change. Empowering them to share their stories in their own words provides the basis for organizational development, quality improvement and leadership programmes founded on the experiences of those involved in the system to complement the results of surveys and research formulated by the system.
Patient Voices operates as a social enterprise dedicated to the creation and distribution of these important stories of health and social care. Now home to nearly 1,000 stories of health and illness, tragic losses and miraculous recoveries, the Programme is widely respected as being the only resource of its kind in the world, receiving nearly one million hits per annum on the website and with stories being used by, among others, the UK Chief Medical and Nursing Officers, and as far away as Australia and Hong Kong. Pip and Tony are considered to be the leading practitioners in digital storytelling in healthcare in the world. The methodology developed for creating Patient Voices Reflective digital stories has been adapted for use as a valid method of gathering qualitative data and has been used by the National Audit Office, among others while the three-stage ethical consent and release process they have developed is acknowledge to be an exemplar of good practice in digital storytelling and other forms of participatory research.
The Patient Voices Programme has won a number of awards, including the 2010 British Medical Journal award for Excellence in Healthcare Education.