Module 3 – Involving Children and Young People in Your QI Journey

In collaboration with RCPCH &Us, this module introduces healthcare professionals to involving children and young people in quality improvement and shares examples of different types of engagement.

Welcome to engagement with RCPCH &Us! 

RCPCH &Us is the children, young people and family network for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, bringing together under 25s and parent/carers from different experiences and backgrounds to inform and influence our work and the child health sector.  

Every voice and every view shared with RCPCH &Us counts, whether through art-based activities, using communication aids for those who are non-verbal, through online responses to text consultations or in face to face conversations and workshops. It all helps to create the best services for children and young people across paediatrics, child health, the NHS and beyond.  

In this short module we will: 

  • Reflect on our engagement foundations, children’s rights, and our engagement approach 
  • Explore the benefits and costs of engagement  
  • Hear from RCPCH &Us members as to why engagement matters to them 
  • Think about how to create creative and inclusive engagement opportunities 

This module is led by RCPCH &Us, the RCPCH Children and Young People’s Engagement Team and the KZ Partnership (KZP).  

It all starts with rights 

“Put your hand up if you’ve heard of the UNCRC?” 

When we deliver our training, young people have asked that we always start with this question to see how many people have heard of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), followed by:

“How many of you can name 5+ articles and how it links to your work in health?”

Hands start to go down at this point, as whilst many people have heard of the UNCRC, how it is applied to their daily practice, or build into QI programmes is often overlooked.  Our work is guided by principle that Rights Matter with a specific focus on the UNCRC which states that all children and young people have the right to be involved in decisions that affect them (Article 12) and the right to the best healthcare possible (Article 24), as well as all services and individuals working in the best interests of the child (Article 3).    

RCPCH advocates a Rights Based Approach which was developed by UNICEF to support child friendly cities in the UK. RCPCH &Us young people are keen for all health workers to feel confident protecting and promoting children and young people’s rights in health, and to be able to work with them to provide the best services possible. 

Watch the video below to find out more:

Looking for more information? Check out our Rights Matters page and download your copy of Recipes for Rights.  

What is engagement? 

RCPCH’s engagement activities are designed for and with infants, children, young people, young adults up to their 25th birthday and their advocates (parents, carers, families, friends, healthcare professionals, support workers – plus others) with the primary focus being supporting and encouraging the voice and views of children and young people.  

Engagement can mean different things to different sectors. We use the principles of youth work with the practice of youth social action to create opportunities and programmes where children and young people are supported to develop, work together, and create collective change.  

RCPCH &Us advocates a mixed methods approach to engagement from micro-volunteering in clinic chats (5-10 minutes involvement) where children and young people can share their experiences to help inform policy or processes, through to one-off taster sessions (2-3 hours) or via regular projects that meet weekly or monthly.   

Every piece of work where children and young people’s insight, input and support are required, needs to have a bespoke engagement plan, which considers the different needs, interests and models of delivery that works best for those involved.  This will ensure the engagement meets both the needs of the group and the service, whilst retaining a rights-based approach, and always remembering to make it:

  • 1/3 fun (life, survival and development)
  • 1/3 our agenda (transparency/accountability) 
  • 1/3 their agenda (participation)

Our engagement foundations focus on an adaptation of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model: 

  • Why engagement with children and young people is the right thing to do
  • How engagement will make a difference
  • What we need to consider and do to support successful engagement

There are different definitions of engagement that you’ll need to consider, watch the video below to find out more and use the links for further reading: 

Looking for more information? Sign up to the Engagement Collaborative newsletter!

What are the benefits and costs of engagement? 

In this video clip below, Jonny from KZP explains some of the system and individual benefits of having children and young people involved in your services, whilst also highlighting some of the costs if it is done ineffectively:

Engagement to action

Engagement is multi-layered in every way. It’s important to think about the different parts of the engagement cycle that supports people to stay involved throughout your improvement journey. Being mindful of the different steps, and exploring them with children, young people and families will result in greater long-term engagement success.  

Looking for more information? See our pages for health professionals on engaging with children and young people.

You can also download our toolkits pack created for QI programmes which includes a Bake-Off themed planning sheet below:

What matters to children and young people? 

We have a huge source of data in the RCPCH &Us Voice Bank from our engagement work, which have been reviewed to identify RCPCH &Us priorities for 2021-2024. These are: 

  1. Parity of esteem for mental health with physical health  
  2. Creating child and young people friendly health services  
  3. Ensuring children and young people have access to the support their need, in accessible and inclusive ways including online and during a pandemic 
  4. Increasing awareness and understanding of children’s rights in a health context  

These priorities have been identified through the ideas, wishes, views and voices of thousands of children and young people who have been involved in RCPCH &Us activity from 2019-2021: 

You can use these UK-wide priorities as a starting point to identifying your local priorities. Use the visual voting activity from Recipes for Engagement to explore these priorities with your patients and families.  

RCPCH &Us: Our tips for engagement

In the video below, RCPCH &Us volunteers share their tips for getting children and young people involved, and how to make sure you provide a safe and supportive engagement opportunity. You’ll also hear from Dr Mo Akindolie, the Assistant Registrar for RCPCH who is the chair of the Children and Young People’s Engagement Committee, talking about why engagement matters to her:

You can also find out more from children and young people about their experiences in our other RCPCH platforms: 

  • The RCPCH Insight Article published on the work of RCPCH &Us with interviews by a trainee looking to understand more about youth volunteering and advocacy
  • Regular features by young people in the RCPCH members magazine Milestones, always on page 11
  • Read more from young people about their priorities and actions in the State of Child Health: One Year On article

RCPCH &Us: Being creative with QI engagement

In this final video, Emma from the children and young people’s engagement team shares a few ideas for different activities to support involvement and participation in your QI programme:

There are lots more activities, resources and games available on the RCPCH &Us pages on the RCPCH website or get in touch with us at 

Further reading  

  • A book chapter  was published in October 2021 showcasing the RCPCH &Us programme written by the Registrar and Children and Young People’s Engagement Manager with contributions from young people, paediatricians and RCPCH Staff. 
  • The work of RCPCH &Us was featured by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in an Expert Q&A Blog.
  • NHS England has an online hub of resources and how to guides for engagement of patients and the public in health services.