Like most NHS organisations, the vast majority of our engagement takes place with people within the context of our day-to-day business or their own direct recent experience of the NHS – whether that’s a visit to their local GP surgery or care setting or receiving care in their own homes, for example through health visitors or care staff.
Our day-to-day engagement activities also tend to focus on these settings, through for example leaflets and posters available at the local surgery, meetings with primary care staff and patients, advice delivered via family doctors or via staff carrying out care in people’s homes.
This is – and should remain – the core of our listening and engagement activity. It enables us to understand the views and experiences of those currently using and experiencing our services. And it forms a vital part of our quality strategy.
We are strengthening the ways in which we can support our engagement with our frontline staff through, for example, creating a new GP Practice Extranet so that practice managers and clinical staff – including community nursing staff -working on the frontline can exchange views and opinions with us and more easily keep up to date with what we are doing.
Our work with organisations representing seldom heard groups will help us increase the range of those whose voices and opinions we hear, by taking advice from them on the optimum way to engage with their members and communities.
However, the people and organisations directly engaged through these activities during any particular period are only a sub-set of the overall population.
Our commissioning responsibilities are not just to deal with the here and now, but to engage and plan for the medium and longer terms. So everyone in our area has an interest in what we do and what we plan to do.
But there are plenty of people who neither participate nor wish to participate in organisations. We have been looking at how we can reach beyond our day-to-day operational contexts to encompass a wider cross-section of our population.
This is, for example, one of the reasons why our Listening Booth goes out to speak to people directly and face-to-face in locations beyond specific health and social care settings – for example coffee mornings, libraries and shopping centres.
Over the coming period, we will look to be even more imaginative about the locations we choose to deploy our Listening Booth – for example by linking up with major sporting, cultural, environmental or tourism events across Leicestershire and Rutland. We will contact organisations organising such events to see what opportunities exist.
We also believe that social media can play a significant role in this regard. Millions of people across the UK use social media daily to find and interact with like-minded people and organisations who share their interests, concerns and priorities – for example young mums and dads, people interested in mental health issues, maybe even people interested in diet or alternative therapies.
Often, these people do not naturally come into contact with our organisation, but their voices matter. We believe we can identify and reach out to these people using social media.
For example, an insight into their interests can sometimes by gleaned the organisations and accounts whom they choose to follow on Twitter.
We will use a specialist NHS Social Media tool called Find SoMeone in Health to identify and approach followers of Twitter accounts that demonstrate a relevance to our target areas but do not currently follow our own Twitter account @NHSELRCCG.