Involving local communities in planning health and social care initiatives can lead to more effective and sustainable outcomes.

How can we help?

Local people are often best placed to know how to engage with fellow residents.  They also know first-hand the needs of their community.  Therefore, engaging them in the development of future health promotion campaigns, strategy or initiatives can lead to more valuable outcomes.

Evolving Communities Consultancy and our local Healthwatch services design and deliver community engagement and co-production projects.  We help health and social care organisations and service providers to connect and work collaboratively with diverse local communities, to develop, achieve, and sustain shared understanding and objectives.

Our approach

Our sector expertise and professional skills are enhanced by our understanding of health and social care engagement at a local level through our excellent local Healthwatch networks.

With all new projects, we begin by clarifying the aim, outcomes, scope, and key stakeholder groups.  We typically adopt a four-stage approach to delivering community engagement and co-production projects.

Mapping the community:  We carry out research to get to know the community and how it functions.  We identify key voices, relevant groups and initiatives that are already running, and any vulnerable groups, for example, in assisted living or care homes.

Embed in the community:  We establish a base in the local community, somewhere that is frequently used by local residents, for example a local café, a community centre.

Recruit a community engagement panel:  This panel will be formed from local residents and key stakeholders.  We work with them to design the engagement plan and methodology, including questions and data analysis.  They might also act as peer researchers – going out to speak with fellow residents – in which case we will train them around consent, data privacy, safeguarding, asking questions and focus group moderation.

Reporting findings:  Following data analysis, we prepare a report that outlines key findings and where appropriate, recommendations and suggested next steps.

Public Health Team, Gloucestershire County Council:
The Food & Families Project

Working with local communities to explore barriers to healthy eating.

Our methods

We generally use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods and a variety of engagement techniques.  This will depend on the nature of the community involved and the outcomes required.  We will work with the community engagement panel to design the most appropriate and effective engagement plan.

As well as more traditional surveys, interviews and focus groups, we may use more creative methods such as diary keeping, community picnics, and digital storytelling.  Although these methods are more time-consuming to analyse, they provide rich and nuanced data and allow us to reach those who may not traditionally get involved in engagement activities.

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