“No thanks, it’s not really my sort of thing” I said on the phone a few times to Emma, “but if no-one steps forward I’ll do it”.
Emma was organising the Judges for 2016’s Quality in Care (QiC) Diabetes Awards and was seeking to get a non health care professional (HCP) person on each of the three award judging teams.
No-one else stepped forward.
“Damn it” I thought, never wanting to backtrack on a promise.
QiC Diabetes Awards: a bit of background
The QiC Diabetes Awards is a programme designed to award some of the very best projects, initiatives, people and groups within the UK Diabetes arena. 2016 sees it celebrate its sixth year.
This year they were 11 categories, 8 of which were for projects and 3 were for people. See the list here.
Many of the winners and finalists from previous years are featured on the QiC Case Studies page for others to view and learn from, maybe taking on the initiative/project or adapting it to suit their organisation.
What the judges do
This year the judges were responsible for just 7 of the project categories and these are split across three judging teams.
Bob Swindell, Andy Broomhead and I were the non-HCP people and we each took our place on the teams which were chaired by Simon O’Neill (Diabetes UK), Dr Paru King (Derby Hospitals) and Dr Sheridan Waldron (Children and Young People’s National Diabetes Network) respectively.
Each team had to decide on the winners, finalists and commendations for each category.
My team had two categories to review – of course I’m not going to let on which ones.
After all the applications are finalised they are sent by email to each judge who then reads (and re-reads in my case) each application scoring each section against a defined set of criteria. We received them on 14th June 2016.
You have about a month to do this before the results grids are sent back to the organiser, who collates everything ahead of Judging Day. We had to send ours back by 11th July 2016.
After Judging Day you sit back, relax, and look forward to attending the QiC Diabetes Awards evening which you automatically get an invite to.
I was sent an email with all the applications for my team’s two categories, 25 applications.
“Well, this won’t take long” I thought, incorrectly.
25 applications, most of which had 10 sides of A4. I don’t think I was prepared for the amount of paperwork I had to read through, and as someone who doesn’t really read it was all a bit of a shock to the system.
It’s 2016, why did I agree to be a judge this year?
If I’d really thought this through I never would have agreed to be a judge this year, another year maybe, but not this year.
June 2016 saw a month long feast of football in the EUFA Euro 2016 finals.
Early July saw the Tour de France start.
It turns out for me these were both far more compelling than judging applications for an awards programme.
Don’t judge my judging process
I guess everyone’s judging process is different, I’ve never done it before but my process worked for me and I’d improve it if I were ever to judge anything again.
On average I took at least one hour per application and judging it on its merits against the framework proved not much of a problem, but after doing that I needed to make sure it was fairly judged against the others. On the two days where I locked myself away for 6 or 7 hours this was much easier, but with football and cycling to watch this wasn’t so easy.
I made notes about every mark I gave for every section for every application as I was worried about being questionned on Judging Day. Turns out I needn’t have worried so much but making notes helped me through the process.
Finally I’d done them all and emailed Emma my completed results grid, merely seconds before the deadline time. Which was pretty much like my whole life at school.
Judging Day beckons
I was very nervously excited to go to Judging Day, at Chandos House in central London.
As a non-HCP and clearly the least educated person in the room I felt nervous about stating my views, holding my ground, challenging others and being a valuable member of the team.
But this would be the first time I’d ever met Becky or Anne in person, after years of chatting on Social Media, and I was really excited about that. Plus I was looking forward to saying hi to a few people I’d met before: Simon, Andy, Kate, Phil, Mayank and Bob.
The judging day itself was good, fairly low key with great open discussions.
The wine, cider and meal out afterwards with Anne and Bob was even better, even if I did later that evening fall victim to Bob’s mission of upping his step count for his One Million Steps Challenge for Diabetes UK.
Making a difference
My worries about making a difference as a non-HCP were unfounded. My views were encouraged, listened to and respected and I left feeling I’d made a real difference, raising awareness about some things, highlighting inconsistencies the HCPs hadn’t noticed.
I was initially worried about being seen as a representive of others in the community – I’ve seen some pretty negative comments to this effect about others – but I soon realised that I’d been invited myself, not as a ‘patient rep’. Otherwise I’d have refused to join in.
Would I do it again?
Yes, I would, without a doubt.
Along with the caveat of not doing it in a year which features a major football tournament.