December is normally a time for reflection and celebration and as we look back over 2022 there are so many things that PPGs have achieved! For the first time since the start of COVID-19 most groups have been able to meet back in person with their practices and plan activities and initiatives without the fear of another lockdown. It’s also been great to see PPGs being sensitive to the needs of members who are not able to meet with people in enclosed spaces by holding hybrid or well-ventilated meetings!

December saw a really cold snap, which brought home the issues many people in our communities are having about keeping warm this winter. Many PPG members have been really supportive in sharing warm spaces initiatives with Help & Kindness, who are managing a database of places people can go this winter to keep warm. Members have also helped guide people in their communities towards the list, keep up the great work! More information on the warm homes initiative in Dorset.

During the month there were several meetings held and some took the opportunity to share festive food and drink, which is always a great way to end a meeting! The Prince of Wales PPG welcomed new members and discussed social ways they could look to involve more people in the coming year. Puddletown PPG heard about the digital support given to patients from the digital care coordinators and how members can support this initiative in the future.

Jim interviewed someone as part of the 100 conversations project and learned more about the challenges people in the deaf community have when trying to access health and social care services. If you know anyone who would like to take part in the project please contact Jim or Gill or visit the Our Dorset website. He also met with a nurse consultant to discuss the New-Man prostate cancer support group (highlighted in the October blog), how the group can reach many of the men living with prostate cancer in Dorset and how PPGs could help with this. More details will be shared in future blogs, more information about the New-Man group.

At the Gillingham PPG meeting the group heard about three new recruitments to the practice team – a practice nurse, a digital care coordinator and a respiratory practice nurse. Over in Purbeck, Gill hosted a lively meeting of PPG Chairs and PCN management team representatives, where we received a full and very informative update from the clinical director.

Jim and Gill were really delighted to be approached by patient engagement representatives from an ICB in the Midlands, who were keen to talk to us about the amazing work going on in Dorset with our PPGs. We were so pleased and proud that the work of Dorset’s PPGs is becoming so famous!

Gill was so pleased to go along to the first meeting of the Penny’s Hill Practice PPG, where we had excellent presentations from the lead GP, practice manager and social prescriber. Gill also had a lovely time at the Lifeboat Quay PPG Christmas meeting (where she may have partaken of a delicious mince pie, just the one though! 😊)

Lifeboat Quay PPG meeting

Outside of work Gill completed a sponsored walk for SANDS (a charity supporting people affected by stillbirth and neonatal bereavement). Not only did she exceed the target number of miles walked but she also raised over £400! Jim hasn’t been any where near as energetic, he’s been watching lots of Christmas films (Elf is his favourite!) and preparing for family to visit.

As we look ahead to the New Year there are many exciting things we are planning including new webinar topics, helping to further develop PPG membership in Dorset, support new activities and even look to have our PPG networking conference again! We hope you have a fantastic start to 2023!

Gill and Jim

Jim enjoying a mine pie outside Puddletown Surgery