Introducing Dr Stephanie Snow: Academic Lead for Community Engagement and Involvement

by | Jun 3, 2021 | Guest Authors | 0 comments

Mairiosa Hall, is our guest author as part of her MSc student Science Communication course. In this final instalment of the blog series she talks to Dr Stephanie Snow who is featured in our Short Film: PPIE: Working With Our Communities. They discuss Stephanie’s passion for Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) and hear about some of her most memorable projects.

Dr Stephanie Snow is the Academic Lead for Community Engagement and Involvement in the Faculty of Biology, Health and Medicine. Her core interests lie in analysing the relationship between the knowledge, practice and performance of medicine and healthcare across period, cultures, social contexts and geographies. Throughout her career, Stephanie has worked closely with patients, clinicians and the public through numerous PPIE projects. Within her professional role Stephanie’s work covers a variety of responsibilities including:

  • chairing the Faculty’s PPIE Forum;
  • bringing together Public Contributors and representatives across the faculty and University;
  • developing frameworks concerning the ethics of PPIE work;
  • ensuring good practise plus much more

In Stephanie’s opinion, some of her most significant PPIE work was in collaboration with the Stroke Association. With the association, Stephanie was involved in engagement work with stroke survivors exploring how they recreated their lives after a stroke. This work had a significant beneficial impact not only for stoke patients, but also for researchers, clinicians and medical students who were involved. Patients engaged in numerous creative and therapeutic workshops outside of a clinical setting, allowing observations and conversations to occur in a more natural and comfortable environment.

Engagement projects such as this often bring isolated individuals together as a community benefiting recovery and mental health. They also provide important insight for clinicians and medical students about the lived experience of these patients rather than just the medical aspect of their conditions. A brief overview of this project was developed into a short film available on the Faculty’s YouTube channel here.

One of Stephanie’s stand out projects is called Covid Conversations, forming part of the wider NHS at 70 oral history project. Her team are developing a national collection of personal testimonies around Covid-19 that will be preserved as a permanent public resource. Stephanie was frustrated that NHS resources didn’t fully reflect the real people that made up the history of the NHS. The lack of diversity found in these resources reflected the traditional balance of power at the time. The lack of women and BAME voices recorded throughout the organisations history has resulted in the production of a different version of history. Stephanie’s goal was to create a new archive of accounts that represents the true diverse history of the NHS.

Stephanie successfully acquired funding from the National Lottery for a 3-year project using a volunteer model. Interviews were conducted across the country in many different communities to try and capture voices of those that previously had no representation, with the help of community leaders and charities access to many groups was made available. By March 2020 over 800 interviews had been conducted, however at this stage in the project the Covid-19 pandemic caused major interruption. Instead of looking at the pandemic as a roadblock, Stephanie realised that this was a moment of significance in NHS history and took the opportunity to capture different communities’ experiences in real time. The team revisited communities they had previously interacted with (online of course) and documented a new series of personal testimonies reflecting on their experiences with the NHS during the pandemic. These testimonies will be preserved as a permanent public resource for information policy and practice and form a wider British Library Covid-19 collections initiative.

Stephanie believes PPIE makes a measurable difference to the quality of research and teaching and believes it is a fundamental part of the way that everyone needs to approach their work. She said:

‘Involving people and communities in research means building relationships through conversations and developing shared priorities. We often talk about researchers informing and inspiring the public about their research, but in my experience, it’s the people and communities I work with who inform and inspire me.’

Mairiosa Hall, MSc student