Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How Health and Wellbeing Boards can involve the public

It is difficult to get the public involved in decision making about the big, strategic issues in Health and Social Care.  We are much more interested in things that concern us at a personal level.  

The Health and Wellbeing Boards that exist in shadow form in all local authority area are intended to promote the health and wellbeing of all residents in their area. Through the production of a needs assessment they will set the priorities for health and social service commissioning so that the best possible outcomes are obtained for local people. 

Or something like that anyway. 

The members of the board come from the local councils, health and social service managers and one member from Local Healthwatch. They are expected to involve the public in their work 

So I thought I would give them a few of my ideas, a few basic principles on how to involve the public. 

  1. The Health and Wellbeing Board must know what it means by 'involvement' AND the purpose of such involvement.
  2. The board must inform the public about its ideas on involvement and the purpose of public involvement.
  3. The board must inform the public about what it can and cannot do with the results of the involvement process.
  4. The board should use lots of different methods to involve the public.
  5. The board should involve the public at an early stage in the development of ideas and plans.
  6. The board should involve the public all through the process of developing plans.
  7. The board should try to ask specific questions rather than vague ones.
  8. The board should think and act 'locally' (small scale).
  9. It will be more productive to look at single issues, conditions, treatments or groups of patients.
  10. Use existing networks, service user groups, charities & voluntary sector organisations.
  11. Face to face, informal events tend to be more successful than formal ones.
  12. Go out to people, go to the workplace, the schools, clinics  shops, clubs & wards.  Do not expect people to come to you.
  13. Use language that people understand, no jargon, and ask short questions.
  14. The board must feedback to the public what information in gets through involvement and how it uses it.
  15. The board will need to inform people and educate them about how decisions are made and how evidence is used.
  16. Read the literature and research on patient and public involvement.
  17. Patients and the public are different and so they will need different approaches .
  18. We, the public will NOT be 'representative'.

 Any more ideas would be welcome.  Feel free to contribute.

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