The Patient Partner programme

In this programme you may be teaching a variety of health professionals: medical students, primary care physicians, nurses, physiotherapists etc. To keep the text simple we often just use the word “doctor” or physician” but remember you ma be talking to students or nurses.

**********************************************************************************************************************The aim of the Patient  Partner  programme is to assist in the teaching  of health  professionals  to assess the problems  of people  with arthritis and other  musculoskeletal conditions,  to  ensure  the  best  management of those problems. This process  requires  that the consultation between the person  with  arthritis  or  other  musculoskeletal problem   and  a  health professional  results in the health professional  having a full understanding of the problem  the person has, the effects it is having on them, and being able   to  identify  the  cause   so  that  a  plan   for  management  can   be developed and explained to the person.

You as a Patient  Partner are the best person  to help  health  professionals to develop  these skills, and  the training manual  and  the training  course are designed  to enable  you to do this with confidence.

This training manual  provides you with all the basic knowledge you need to become a Patient Partner. The manual  is divided  into four sections.

  • The first part of the manual gives you the foundation for your studies.

The  aim  is to  help  you  understand from  the  health  professionals viewpoint  what  they need  to gain from a consultation if they are to provide  the best management of that problem.

  • The second part of the manual  provides  you with some background knowledge to help you communicate effectively with health professionals.
  • The third  part  provides  modules   for  the  different  demonstrations.

These  include   a  module   for  the  screening   assessment   (based  on GALS – this is explained on  page  18) and  modules  related  to the common  problems   that  health   professionals   need   to  be  able  to manage. These include  problems  with the neck,  shoulder, hand  and wrist, lower  back,  hip,  and  the knee,  ankle  and  foot. Each module has a guide to developing a script for describing  your problem  and a script for the examination.

  • The final part has further information that will help  you as a Patient Partner, and will help you prepare  for a Patient Partner demonstration meeting.

You will be  advised  by your  trainer  about  which  modules  to study  for your initial training.   If you choose  to, and training is available, you can find out about  studying additional modules  at a later stage.

How to use this manual

You will be assigned  a study partner  as a mentor  for you before,  during and   after  your  training.  Your  study  partner   will  be  able   to  answer questions  and give you direction  and support,  and encouragement if you feel overwhelmed!

Part 1 is background information  for you

to understand, not learn. It should  help you to prepare  for learning  the joints for your demonstration meetings.

Part 2 is a little harder,  especially  if you have not studied  anatomy  or biology before. It will teach  you how to describe  your problems  using the correct medical  terms. Although it may seem a lot to learn,

it will help you to be able to communicate effectively and precisely with the doctors  and you will be helping them to learn was well. Plan your schedule so that can study a little each  day, whilst allowing  yourself time to review what you learned  on the previous day. Practise by naming the different parts of your body and teaching  a family member  or friend. Also try to describe to someone where  one part of the body is in relation to another  or in what direction  you are moving your arms or legs. Repetition is a vital part of learning.

Part 3 includes  much  that is familiar to you if you are already  a Patient Partner as it is about  helping  you learn how to teach  others about  your own condition.

If you are a new Patient Partner, then this is the section that will teach  you about  the joints you are going to demonstrate. Your study partner  will help you.

Before the course

As mentioned earlier,  your study partner  will provide  you with support leading  up to the course. You should have this manual  six weeks prior to the course  to allow you plenty of time to read through  at your leisure.

Try to familiarise yourself with the Part 1. Principles of a Consultation and Part 2. Background  Knowledge. Try to understand the “directional terms” as  this  is the  language  used  when  describing   the  examination. Many unfamiliar  words are described. When  they first appear  in the text these words are printed in italics and emboldened. Words that are bold but not italicised  are just for emphasis. In addition, there is a glossary at the end of  the  manual   where   you  can  look  these  words  up.  We  have  also provided  a pronunciation guide.

The course

A Patient  Partner  who  has  been   additionally trained  to  be  a  Patient

Partner trainer will lead your training course.

A Patient  Partners  training  course   is  typically  residential   and  lasts  a number  of days, often 2 or 3, depending on the joints to be covered.

During  this time you will cover  the manual  in more  detail  and  have  an opportunity to see and practise  the Patient Partner demonstration.

After the course

It is  crucial  that  you  practise,   practise,   practise  when  you  leave  the course  – this is what makes a confident  and competent Patient Partner.

Four to six weeks after your course,  you will be assessed on your demonstration. Do not be alarmed  as, by this point, the whole procedure will be familiar to you and you will have received  guidance and support from your trainers/co-ordinators.

Learn and practise:

Your introduction, the Patient Partners programme and  an explanation of the session. You should  then  be  able  to provide  all the  information within a given time (see chapter  on preparing  for a meeting). You will find a script provided  for these into which you can insert your specific details.

Taking a history (including what the patient wants to get from the consultation and what the doctor  wants to get from the consultation).

The Screening Assessment.

The Full Examination of the joints that you have learned.


  • Make flash cards of various terms and ask family or friends to test you.
  • Use the checklist to quiz yourself and review materials  you have already  studied.
  • You may   wish   to   make   a   flipchart   with   some   of   your demonstration  notes  (lists  can  be  useful  to  ensure   you  have covered  everything).
  • Use your study partner.
  • Make a recording of the full script and play it at home  and in the car, so you become familiar with the wording  and pronunciation and with the flow of the demonstration.
  • If you are not confident about  speaking  in public,  practise  what you are going to say out loud  a few times. You can  practise  on your  own  in  front  of  a  mirror,  or  better  still,  ask  a  friend  or member  of your family to listen to you.

Becoming a Patient Partner

Patient Partner demonstration meetings  will vary according to:

  • Who  is  going   to   be   trained   (medical   students,   primary   care physicians, a mixture  of primary  care  physicians  and  other  health professionals, such as nurses,  physiotherapists etc).
  • How many people you will have to work with.
  • Whether you are working with a doctor  to run the session.
  • How long you have been given for your demonstration meeting.

For your  first few meetings,  an  option  is for you  to attend  with  a fully qualified Patient Partner so that you can gradually take on more of a role.

It is important  to keep  up  your  skills and  to refresh  your  studies  every now and again to ensure  you have not forgotten what you have learned. You will be expected to undertake a periodical assessment  – we call this Quality Assurance  (QA).

Remember  that this is a method  of joint examination and you may come across  people  who  use different practice. This is fine but do not adopt practice  into your demonstration that is not compatible with this manual. Check if you are not sure.