The tool-kit is intended as a flexible resource that organisations can draw on. Each of the steps in the kit build on those introduced previously, but it is certainly not necessary to complete every step in order to gather valuable consumer stories to inform your work and decision-making. For example:

  • The Planning section introduces a framework for respectful and effective consumer engagement that can stand alone as a resource to support you in this area. 
  • The Patient Life Journey framework is an adaptable consumer-centred framework that is relevant to many areas of health policy and service delivery (not only as a guide to gathering consumer stories). 
  • This tool-kit provides you with a guide to one-to-one semi-structured interviewing. However much of the advice in this area is also applicable to other settings (such as group consultations or informal ‘everyday’ opportunities to learn more about consumer experiences).
  • A semi-structured interview is a valuable way of understanding of a consumer’s experience, regardless of whether you choose to record this information in a transcript, or to analyse this data using the approach outlined in the Analysis section of this toolkit. 
  • The Health Experience Wheel tool that this kit introduces you to can be adapted to communicate information gathered in a variety of ways - it isn’t limited to semi-structured interview data. 

This tool-kit supports you to gather and analyse consumer experience narratives, and apply this information to decision-making. The techniques described in the kit can be applied for quality monitoring and improvement purposes, in consumer consultation and consumer-involved research, and to inform the design and evaluation of policies and services. Inviting and sharing consumer experience in the ways suggested in the tool-kit can deepen your appreciation of the impact of policies and services on consumers; and can provide you with essential consumer evidence to ensure your decisions improve health outcomes. 

The Toolkit is well-suited to use alongside other information and evidence gathering methods. It helps you to provides the qualitative consumer evidence that is often missing from decision-making. It can highlight areas that require further investigation using quantitative or other qualitative methods. However it can also be used to support stand-alone projects.

The Toolkit works best when:

  • The tools it presents are used to support a specific decision-making task;
  • There is a genuine interest in your organisation in listening to and learning from consumer experience; 
  • You have a clear objective and a clear plan to use the consumer evidence that you gather using the techniques outlined in the Toolkit.