The Q Lab and Mind have worked in partnership to understand how care can be improved for people living with mental and physical health problems. To do this, we spent time exploring the needs and experiences of people living with both mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain.

Through lived experience research, some themes emerged about what matters to people about the care that they receive. Listening to people’s stories and experiences, we wanted to provide these insights in a useable format for those designing, delivering, improving and commissioning services. So we have translated the themes into a set of service principles.

The principles describe what good quality care looks like – but not in a restrictive way. They provide ambition and direction for all those wanting to improve care for people living with both of these conditions. It may not be possible for services to meet all of the principles, but we hope this provides useful insights to inform the way services are developed, and will be a useful starting point when exploring peoples needs and experiences locally.

The principles are:

  1. Cultivate enabling relationships
  2. Understand and cater to context
  3. Learn together and build a shared understanding
  4. Jointly explore risks, options and expectations
  5. Collaborate across services and agencies

Download the service principles (PDF)

What matters to me? also includes further information about the methodology for developing the principles, further information on each principle and how they can be used in practice.

Why service principles?

The inspiration for these principles came from our collaborative research with people living with mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain. They draw on principles of personalised care and shared decision-making.1

Through this research we heard about the range in the quality of care and support that people had received. We heard about the different pathways people have through the health system – resulting in mixed experiences. We also heard about the incidental or accidental discoveries or conversations that made a big difference to people. This raised questions of how we can use these stories to give more clarity on what ‘good’ looks like, to either support services seeking to improve what they have, or to support organisations who don’t necessarily know where to start.

Taking inspiration from service design2 we sought to share these insights in a way that placed people’s lived experiences front and centre, and help practitioners, improvers and commissioners to understand and explore these principles of good care in practice.

Using the principles

These service principles are experimental in that they aren’t written for a specific organisation or service: they provide general principles for what good care can look like when providing support and care to people living with mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain. Any organisation that wants to use them will have to think about how they relate to their local context, culture and values.

Within What matters to me? we suggest these instances where you may find them useful:

  1. Designing a new service or making improvements
  2. Commissioning services
  3. As patient information
  4. As part of training for health care professionals

Service principles are often used to help people to understand a service from the perspective of users and their needs, in order to build a shared understanding from multiple stakeholders to design improvements. These principles provide a starting point for improvement work that are based on multiple sources of evidence and perspectives, on which others can build.

  • Feedback? Reflections? Let us know what you think ( and how you will be using these in practice.
  • Know someone who might be interested in the principles? Share them!
  • To connect with people interested in transforming care for people with mental health and persistent back and neck pain, join the Q Lab online group.