Engagement: beyond tokenism for better joined-up care
Effective engagement and co-production requires a clear plan that takes into account the views of a wide range of individuals and groups, including those who work with and represent patients and people who use services.
To ensure that services meet the needs of the local population, a wider range of views about what people want from local services should be sought and considered.
The plan to achieve this should cover different channels, considering the communication preferences of different demographic groups. Some people will respond well to traditional consultations, where they are asked to respond to a paper document setting out a range of questions or scenarios. Others will prefer the opportunity to discuss their views face to face, and some may be interested in contributing online or through social media.
Areas should engage the local voluntary and community sectors in design, evaluation and co-production, tapping into their different networks and ability to have conversations with citizens in a different way to statutory organisations.
Virtual communities such as Mumsnet and I Want Great Care, provide other channels for reaching beyond the ‘usual suspects’.
Things to consider
- using digital technology for engagement blended with offline support
- the role of professional independent advocacy in supporting citizens to get involved
- integrating peer support into routine care
- how can you make it fun, social and creative?
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Brighton and Hove’s community engagement framework Open
A document that provides a clear definition of community engagement and sets specific standards for this.
Engage East Midlands’ self-assessment toolkit for partnerships Open
Practical assistance for partnerships to self-assess current levels of community participation, identify the participation they would like to have and undertake a series of exercises to help partnerships get from where they are now to where they want to be.
NHS England - Citizen model Open
NHS Citizen is a new approach to how NHS England gives citizens a voice and enables them to influence its work. To date, it has involved online and offline conversations and over 4,000 people have contributed to discussions about the work of NHS England.
Visit: NHS England - Citizen model
Tools and resources
Building Better Participation – National Association for Patient Participation Open
All GP practices in England must have a patient participation group (PPG) and make reasonable efforts for this to be representative of the practice population. The National Association for Patient Participation provides a resource guide to help GP practice patient participation groups work effectively.
Visit: Building Better Participation – National Association for Patient Participation.
Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion for health and care. Its role is to ‘make sure that those who run health and care services understand and act on what really matters to people’. The Healthwatch network is made of up of local Healthwatch across each of the 152 local authority areas, and Healthwatch England is the national body.
Locally, Healthwatch voices people’s concerns and provides feedback to service providers and commissioners. Through local engagement, Healthwatch collects vital data on how and why people use services in their area. Healthwatch’s place on the health and wellbeing board means local Healthwatch can represent the voice of people in decisionmaking. Local Healthwatch directly supports people in their community by giving them information or signposting them to local services they need.
Community planning toolkit – Community Places Open
This is a toolkit to support the community and voluntary sectors’ involvement in future community planning processes. The toolkit is primarily for the community and voluntary sector, however it will be useful for a range of partners participating in community planning, including local authorities, elected representatives, statutory service providers and private sector interests.
The toolkit contains five themes which are essential for effective community planning practice: