March 2013: Hilary Belshaw, Henhouse Productions

Hilary Belshaw, Henhouse Productions

My name is Hilary Belshaw and I live in rural Cheshire. I have produced patient information for the NHS for four and a half years now. I also run a small photography and video business called Henhouse Productions. I specialise in health related photography and videos. I have had various NHS photography commissions such as taking staff award photographs at a posh do, taking patients and staff photos for documentation such as Annual Reports, Quality Accounts and hospital charities.

Of course, I don’t just photograph in hospitals, I also have to visit patients in the community. It is vital that patient trust you if they are to let you take photographs in their own home so I build up a rapport quickly to help them relax. When I receive an order for photography I start by contacting the staff in the particular area to see if they can suggest patients who would be willing to be photographed. I always explain how the photo will be used and then obtain signed consent from the member of staff and the patient. When taking photos, it is useful to know where they will be used as there are so many different ways of taking a photo – for instance, should the patient look sad and ill, or smile and look robust? To be on the safe side, I usually take a range of photos to suit most occasions.

Photographs can also be used for patient journey books for people with dementia and learning difficulties. Laminated books can be produced for the department so that patients know what to expect and reduce anxiety.

Patient and staff case studies are used increasingly now, so I need to be aware of the relevant details to ensure my photos illustrate the point!

The video work is becoming very popular now. An instructional health video can save on staff resources leaving clinical staff more time to look after patients, rather then repeating the same instructions time and time again. I have produced a hip replacement and knee replacement DVD for an NHS Trust which is shown at the Pre-op Assessment Clinic. The DVD contains pre-op exercises and instructions for preparing for surgery as well as post-op exercises. The patients take the DVD home and return it at their six week post-op assessment appointment. The patient feedback has been excellent as they can absorb the information in their own time and check that they are doing their exercises correctly without having to wait for their clinic appointment.

Patient experience videos are short clips where a patient talks about their health experience and can be used at Board Meetings and also on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Short online videos are a great medium for health information, whether it’s a clinician giving tips about medical conditions, a health charity giving topical advice such as how arthritis sufferers can cope with going on holiday, a patient talking about how they have coped with a condition such as eczema, or a health professional giving advice on various topics such as healthy dieting or giving up smoking. A short bespoke video filmed with local staff and patients can have a huge impact and promote discussion on social media.

Videos and photos can also bring a website to life, and if they have the right “tags” can increase web traffic. Videos can be uploaded onto Youtube and a link made on the website.

I enjoy the challenge of producing good quality, multi-media images to portray a message, whether it’s post – operative hip exercises, district nursing staff on the road, a consultant surgeon promoting the latest surgical technique or critical care patients for a charity photo shoot.

With social media being used more and more as a means of communicating health topics, short videos and eye catching photos can be a fantastic way to promote a particular service and to get good news stories into the public domain.

I became a member of the PIF to keep abreast of patient information issues and to meet other people in the business. I find the articles and links very interesting and informative and love the new website. I have also found the workshops to be very useful and informative. I throughly enjoyed the 2012 PIF conference which was held in Birmingham where I gave a short talk on Facebook. I have just renewed my membership for 2013 so I hope to meet some interesting members this year.

Hilary Belshaw
Henhouse Productions
mobile: 07866 934 858