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Co-production is the key to Cygnet’s 2018 Christmas Card Campaign

Monday 10th December was a very festive day at Cygnet Health Care’s head office. Raf Hamaizia, Cygnet’s Expert by Experience Lead, called on his extensive network of mental health leaders, campaigners and experts by experience to ensure every one of our service users receives at least one Christmas card this year.

After a round of introductions the event got underway with a talk from DuVonne Solomon. DuVonne was formerly a service user at Cygnet Hospital Blackheath, and is now helping Cygnet, through our experts by experience programme, to promote genuine coproduction in our service improvement and quality initiatives.

Mark Ground, CFO, Mike McQuaid, COO, Raf Hamaizia, Expert by Experience Lead, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, King’s College, Tony Romero, CEO and Monica Parrott, The Royal Hospital Chelsea

DuVonne talked about his experience of mental health services and how the system had not recognised his need for treatment soon enough. Listening to DuVonne really laid out why all these people had come together, to collaborate and share ideas about how we can continue to improve services for those in our care, while at the same time doing something practical to improve people’s experience of Christmas during a very challenging period of their life.

DuVonne’s talk was followed by a brief introduction from Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Chair of the recently published independent review of the Mental Health Act, who talked about the need to focus on people’s individuality, dignity and human rights, when looking at how to reform the Mental Health Act.

Geoff Brennan from Safewards and Mike McQuaid, Cygnet’s COO helped out

The team then watched a film that Cygnet have been working on which opens the conversation around the use of restraint in a healthcare setting. The film featured people currently being cared for in our services, nursing and support staff from our services, and experts by experience with personal experience of restraint. The film is being used to empower our community to have open conversations about restraint, how it is used, and when it should be used.

Dr. Audrey Campbell, University of Hertfordshire, Kim Rutter, Social Care Institute for Excellence, Vicky McNally, Cygnet’s Corporate Governance Director, Liz Durrant, Certitude, Peter Smith, Cygnet’s Social Care Division MD

At times the film made for difficult watching, but its power lies in its ability to look at this emotive issue from the perspective of all of the people involved in a restraint, and to address how traumatic and triggering the experience can be for all concerned. Cygnet hopes that by introducing this film to our services we can not only reduce the frequency of restraint, but also to use effective debriefing to reduce the likelihood of repeated occurrences.

Tony Romero and Jeremy Cox signing cards for the people in our care this Christmas

“It was great to see such a variety of different experiences in the room from so many different organisations and levels of seniority. We were a very effective team on the day, and were able to finish all of the cards within the set time which is amazing.”Raf Hamaizia, Expert by Experience Lead, Cygnet Health Care

Finally, the team got to work ensuring every single person being cared for in a Cygnet service this Christmas will receive at least one card. It was quite an endeavour, with thousands of cards being put into envelopes to wind their way to our services. Christmas can be a time of real joy, but it can also be a very challenging time for some people, especially when they are away from home. We would like to thank everyone involved for helping us to give that little bit of hope to people spending Christmas in our services this year.

Raf Hamaizia, Expert by Experience Lead with David Wilmott, Director of Nursing and Monica Parrott and Paul ‘ACE’ Whittick from The Royal Hospital Chelsea

“Thank you to Raf & the Team, guests and speakers for a great day. Both Monica & I had a fabulous time and enjoyed the whole day!”Paul ‘Ace’ Whittick, The Royal Hospital Chelsea

Mark Ground, CFO, Mike McQuaid, COO, Nick Ruffley, MD Healthcare Division, Raf Hamaizia, Expert by Experience Lead, and Tony Romero CEO

With huge thanks to all of our collaborators, from organisations including:


Care Quality Commission

Centre for Mental Health


Choice Support

Cygnet Health Care

Equal Vision

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Experts by Experience

Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch

Kings College

Mary Seacole House

Mental Health Collective

NHS England

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

Social Care Institute for Excellence

Synergi Collaborative Centre

The Royal Hospital Chelsea’s Chelsea Pensioners

University of Hertfordshire

University of Nottingham

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