Trust Membership Office
The Oast Unit D, Hermitage Court
Kent ME16 9NT
Why sign up to be a member?
NHS foundation trusts are like co-operatives where local people, patients and staff can become members. They elect a Council of Governors that holds the trust to account. Everyone’s motivation for becoming a member is different. You might just have had a baby and be passionate about helping make sure children’s NHS services are the very best they can be. Maybe your granddad or friend has just recovered in a community hospital after a fall and you’d like to tell us about their experience. You might simply just love your local NHS and want to help us make it the best it can be! Here are five of our top reasons to sign up:
- You get to have your say on local NHS services.
- We have more financial freedom to spend money on services you need.
- You will get NHS discounts in high street stores, restaurants and attractions.
- You’ll be kept up-to-date with improvements and changes to local NHS services.
- You can be involved as much or as little as you want in many different ways.
Membership is open to anyone aged 14-years-old and over. Members aged 16-years-old and over may vote in governor elections or stand for election as a governor. If you’re aged 14 or 15 you will need your parent or guardian’s consent to become a member. The trust has 13 public constituencies, 12 that mirror our local council boundaries and one constituency for the rest of England. Members of the public will become part of the constituency in which they live. For people who work for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, there are four constituencies that reflect the way the organisation operates. Employees automatically become members unless they choose to opt out. There is no payment for being a member of a foundation trust.
How can I get involved?
Getting involved is easy. You can do as little or as much as you like. You will have more of a say in the future of our services, through the Council of Governors, which works closely with the Trust Board. Members can receive our magazine, Community Health, which is published quarterly. There are five ways to be involved; you can:
- take part in surveys and questionnaires from time to time
- comment on our information leaflets
- come to public meetings or events and share your views
- join panels or working groups
- stand for election as a governor.
We realise not everybody can get out to events or meetings, so we’ll make sure there are other ways for you to have your say. Members can register for NHS discounts, giving you money off in high street stores, restaurants and attractions. Visit health service discounts to find out more. You cannot become a member of the trust if, in the past five years, you have been involved in an act of assault, violence or harassment against any NHS staff or volunteers. You cannot become a member if you have been convicted of offences against children or vulnerable adults.
What do our members have to say?
We have members of all different ages, from lots of different communities and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Here, you can read their stories.
Pat Conneely joined KCHFT as a public member in 2012, because he wanted to become more involved in how the trust operated. Before retiring, Pat worked in local government as a senior administrator, as an emergency planning officer and in a job centre as an adviser, working with under-18s. He then started work in the Ministry of Health, working on tenders and contracts for the NHS and armed forces. Pat has used his wealth of knowledge and experience to contribute to multiple groups including infection prevention and control, medicines management, nutrition and hydration and quality improvement.
Pat said “As a public representative for the trust, I am in a good position to influence change and make a difference. I have been on the staff awards panel, job interview panels and I am currently working to co-deliver engagement training for health care assistants with the engagement team. I have had the opportunity to receive training in quality improvement and dementia awareness and have participated in the trust’s we care visits.
“If you have an interest in what the trust is doing, becoming a public member will make sure you receive information about KCHFT services. If you want to get more involved, it is very rewarding and your voice can be heard right the way through the organisation.”
Peter and Angela Zein have been members since 2012. For years, Peter was a trustee for The Ace Centre, a charity providing support for people with complex communication difficulties, and was working with the national disability charity SCOPE, providing information on the benefits of giving communication aids to people.
Peter said: “After joining KCHFT as a member, for the first few years it wasn’t easy because I have a communication aid to talk and managers were still learning about my disability. I now feel that they are my colleagues and I think I have made changes in the trust.
“Everyone is important and they listen to what you say. For example, little things like putting a mirror in a disabled toilet. I am also in a group, working on a training program for staff and I love that we are working together. I don’t feel like a patient in that group as they respect me and what I say. As a member you can ask anything and make a change. Go for it!”
Lyn and John Gallimore have been public members of the trust since 2012 after moving to Kent from the Midlands. They both worked in education and John also worked in a civilian post for Staffordshire Police. With a keen interest in health, they became patient representatives for the trust and attended multiple groups, starting with an intravenous (IV) group. Today, they are members of the Kent and Medway Sexual Health patient advisory groups.
John said: “Being involved with the trust has given us opportunities to attend some fantastic events and receive training in safeguarding, mental health awareness and dementia awareness. As I have a background in interviewing, I have been invited to sit on multiple interview panels, most recently for the role of engagement manager. We have also been involved in redesigning leaflets, commenting on documents and working with other organisations in Kent.
“Being a public member will keep you well informed about the trust and open up opportunities for you to get involved. If you develop an interest in the work of KCHFT, it’s worth giving your time as the trust acknowledges that patients and the public have something valuable to offer.”