Co-Production Opinion Real Lives

What keeps me awake at night…

Keymn Whervin, Co-Production Manager, National Voices.

Keymn Whervin, Co-Production Manager, National Voices.

I’m Keymn Whervin, Co-Production Manager at National Voices. My own personal lived experience is 23 years of caring for my mother Elsie.

National Voices is the leading coalition of health and social care charities in England. We have over 200 members covering a diverse range of conditions and communities, connecting us with the experiences of millions of people. In 2021, myself and my colleague Rachel Matthews co-designed Voices for Improvement, a diverse lived experience community.

Another of my roles is as the lived experience facilitator for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s personalised care strategic co production group, My Life Choices. I am also the lived experience co-chair for the West Midlands Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ regional co production group.

When I reflect on the question, “What keeps you awake at night?” my mind immediately goes to the imbalance of power between leaders in social care and health and the people accessing these services.  I also worry about the increase in accounts of racism I hear of in the sector. It saddens me that people accessing services and the workforce itself both feel as if they have the power or confidence to speak up.

People are noticing the quality of support they receive seems to have taken a back foot, with the pandemic often given as the reason for this. I strongly believe that hearing from people who are the experts of their own care should be a priority, so leaders can better understand their perspectives.

My lived experience has defined my path. People with lived experience may come from different walks of life but we have one thing in common; we are entrepreneurs, able to find fresh solutions and ideas to improve the system and consequently, people’s lives. For example, I don’t know many black people with an understanding of personal health budgets or personal budgets, why is this? Communities like mine are not made aware of these options. Examples are not promoted, personalised care not explained, Information is power!

If it wasn’t for the social care movement of ’Making It Real’ I would still be in the dark about what communities can achieve once they have control. It is vital that those with disabilities, unpaid carers and people from ethnic minorities get a platform and a seat at the table.

My time at National Voices has seen me go from being an unpaid carer to an advisory group member, an associate and now an employee. Great things are also happening in health and social care spaces and the workforce needs to be recognised for the hard work they’re doing to get it right for people. It is encouraging to see roles and opportunities for people with lived experience being advertised, but it is crucial that these roles also enable a person to develop their own knowledge, skills, and confidence as a leader.

I have found the freedom to say what needs to be said from a personal and external perspective, and this in turn has enabled me to design and develop the lived experience coaching and mentoring programme (Voices for Improvement) where power is turned on its head and shared with those with lived experience. Through the programme, people with lived experience are coaching system leaders; sharing how they’ve successfully navigated the system and overcome challenges. A shared and learned process.

I am humbled by both health and care system leaders and those with lived experience who have taken a leap of faith to work in partnership and try something different to address health inequalities and racism. We can only do this together by supporting those in most need first.



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