Dedicating hours of a Thursday evening to reflect on data collection analysis or finance and performance reports may not be everyone’s idea of a riveting night out, but this is what My Life My Choice consultants Shaun and Dawn did on November 21, taking part in Oxford Health’s Council of Governors meeting in Thame.

Dawn and Shaun are members of the trust’s Leading Together group which is helping to make our corporate governance more accessible to people with learning disabilities – and ultimately to everyone.

Dawn, Shaun and their colleagues have been working with patient experience lead Rachel Miller to develop easy read versions of agendas and papers, attending meetings and giving feedback to the trust chief executive Stuart Bell and chairman David Walker. And the work is beginning to bear fruit.

“We liked Mike’s [McEnaney, director of finance] finance presentation,” says Shaun.

“He didn’t use any jargon. And it’s good he asked us to stay. We were about to leave, and he said he had specifically prepared for us and wanted our feedback. So, I’m glad we stayed.”

Shaun and Dawn were also very impressed by a presentation on data collection analysis by Allan Poots from Picker Institute.

“It was amazing. I wasn’t expecting him to present data without acronyms,” says Shaun.

Acronyms and jargon are his pet hates. And quite astutely he states: “Surely it’s the same for everyone!”

He and Dawn felt welcome in the meeting.

“We were introduced to others and invited to sit at the table with the governors, and people thanked us for our input,” they said.

But there’s plenty to improve still, for instance the length of the meeting.

“We rarely have meetings that are two hours long without taking a break and this went on much longer, so we couldn’t stay till the end.”

However, asked if they would go again, both Dawn and Shaun were confident: “Definitely.”

The Leading Together group’s work is part of Oxford Health’s quest to open up governance and membership to people with learning disabilities. Before Shaun and Dawn attending the November Council of Governors’ meeting their peers have attended other meetings, including the trust AGM in September. Their feedback is helping us make getting involved more accessible and meaningful for everyone. Plain English, no jargon, shorter meetings – what’s not to like?

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Membership form – easy read

This easy read membership form has been co-produced with the Leading Together group. If you have feedback on it, please email the Membership Team.