Welcome to your guide on how to successfully engage our community in your activities. On this page, you’ll find three steps to help you lead engagement – we use the Plan, Do, Review approach.
Use these guidelines to plan your engagement activity
Be clear about why you are engaging people
- To inform a decision
- As a statutory requirement
- To identify gaps in services
- Prioritising future spending
- For the development of policy
- For feedback for service improvements
- Setting targets for service improvements
- Deepening understanding of key issues
- Measuring satisfaction with, or usage of services
- To identify priorities, issues or improvements for services
- For feedback on different options for service development
- Developing skills and capacity
amongst local residents/communities
If you have ticked one or more, an engagement plan is needed. Please register any engagement activity that relates specifically to NHCP workstream projects with the NHCP communications and engagement team before you start planning. If you are unsure, contact us and we will be happy to help. It is also important to check in and finalise your plans with linked NHCP colleagues before going ahead.
Be clear about who you need to engage
Now, considering the reasons you need to engage, think about the people you need to involve in meeting the reason(s) for engagement.
- Ask for support from the NHCP communication and engagement team to identify your stakeholders
- If your engagement activity was commissioned, consider how you will plan to communicate with them regularly
- Consider if a partner organisation or service group could also be involved
- Identify a participation champion or create a patient involvement team
- Agree who will be involved and who needs to be informed
- Consider how our community will be supported to get involved and what background information they need
- Find out how people prefer to be involved
- Decide how you will communicate your plans, prepare those involved, evaluate and provide feedback to all involved
- Be prepared for potential conflict of patient and public views with professional, clinical and NHS views
- Consider how you can involve those who are hard to reach – it is your responsibility to identify and overcome barriers to reaching them
- Think about who will deliver the activity and what skills will be needed
See Appendix 1 for a guide on identifying and mapping stakeholders and our community.
Write up what needs to happen, with our community in mind
- Set objectives based on what the reasons are for engagement
- Ensure that information is available early enough in decision-making processes
- Secure the resource and capacity to undertake the work involved
- If yours is a statutory consultation, plan to follow the statutory guidance (which will take precedence over this guide)
- Define what information you require and how the information is going to be used
- Establish what resources are available or what is required
- Check that your activity doesn’t conflict with another
- Decide what method and tool will be used using part three
of this guide
- Check that your method suits your objectives and audience(s)
- Write a brief that explains what you are doing and why, and be specific about your limitations (what you can and cannot change)
- Diarise a pilot of the method or tool you plan to use, so you can test how it works – try using it with colleagues or a group of stakeholders
- Write up the benefits of any changes from your work so you can explain this, and be careful and realistic about change
- Consider how all of the above relates to equalities issues and how you can involve a broad cross-section of people
Equality and diversity is part of every engagement activity. Consider how to be inclusive and find guidance on how to include a diverse group of our community by reading Appendix 2.
If you would like to know more about equality, and how to engage using equality analysis, as well as the legal requirements associated with the Equality Act 2010, contact the NHCP communication and engagement team to register your engagement activity at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow these guidelines for managing time, budget, data and people for the best results
- Be clear about what you want to know and do – defining your desired outcomes has the biggest impact on success
- Consider any data protection and regulation issues or
- Decide what kind of data you need – it may be quantitative or qualitative, or both
- Develop questions to go with your engagement method
based on this
What is quantitative data?
Factual, specific information that defines how many, what, where, which and when. Surveys with closed questions that require a yes, no or specific answer provide quantitative data.
What is qualitative data?
More subjective, opinion-based information that explores the motivations of people, and defines why and how they do or think. Focus groups, interviews and surveys with open questions provide qualitative data.
- Develop a timetable for your activities (see templates here)
- Allow enough time for our community to be involved and respond, as well as for you to analyse responses and report results
- If you are consulting with the voluntary and community sector, you should allow 12 weeks Schedule when and how the findings and any changes to policy or service delivery will be fed back to our community
- Make our community aware of this at the time of the engagement information and activity
- Build outcomes into the service or project planning and review process
- List all costings for your activity and create a budget (see template here)
- Identify and assign resources you require
- Consider what could go wrong and create contingencies that can be put in place
- Make leadership a priority by ensuring that senior managers and decision makers are the public face of any proposals for change
- Identify and communicate who will make decisions and when
- Specify who our community contact is if they are unhappy about any aspect of the process
- Be ready to deal with requests for information in another format or another language (some people will have a legal right to this, so it is good to know what your responsibilities are)
- Expect some conflict and disagreement – and capture it so that you can reflect this in the analysis and decision-makers can decide how to respond
- Involve decision makers such as board directors, councillors,
portfolio holders, work stream leads, scrutiny chairs and senior managers, and agree and follow up along the way
The 3 golden rules of doing
See Templates under Tools here to select the method(s) you will engage our community with. Then follow three rules as you go:
1. Stick to your timetable (see templates here).
2. Document everything properly and carefully.
3. Regularly monitor that things are on track. Check that:
- You are reaching all the groups you had planned to
- You are achieving the response rate that you need
- The questions you are asking are being understood as you intended and are generating information that is useful and meaningful
- If things aren’t working to plan, take the contingency actions you identified at the planning stage or decide what else you need to do
All great activities are led by learning and reviewing priorities, results and outcomes
Check this list to consider how much you’ll need to do after the activity
- Input responses from the activity
- Update equality information
- Draw out key messages from feedback and qualitative data
- Compare these with quantitative data and look for insights
- Analyse results using equalities information collected
- Consider key themes and differences emerging from equalities information
- Review the main findings by keeping in mind areas of consensus and disagreement
- Consider stakeholder priorities
- Check if results can be benchmarked against other partners such as council services or local authorities
- Compare any local trends with national trends
- Check you have been compliant with the
- Data Protection Act and Regulations
- Report writing should include a background, details of the activity, findings, our community, and recommendations
- Consider how your report can be succinct, yet meet legal requirements by detailing what our community said, and an executive summary that covers the areas in the point above
Communicating outcomes to our community and for your work
- It’s important to communicate results and outcomes to our community, as this will help determine how engaged and involved they feel
- Create a list of who you need to share outcomes with
- Determine what your key messages are and how their participation has shaped the work
- Be sure to explain why some engagement will not be implemented if you are not adopting all
- Use this audience list to choose between different channels of communication when sharing outcomes
Communication channels for sharing outcomes
- Use the local media, for example newspapers, local radio, television and social media
- Use existing community resources, for example existing community newsletters, posters and literature in community centres or other venues that are visited often
- Organise a fun day where people can get involved in activities and gain feedback
- Or join other events in the community
- Place an advertisement in the local media
- Make a presentation to groups
- Place an article in the NHCP Newsletter
Please note that any media releases, advertisements and events must be discussed with the NHCP communication and engagement team.
Review and evaluate your activity by asking these questions
- Did the methods you choose provide the information you needed?
- Was the engagement successful in achieving the range of views anticipated?
- Did the engagement receive sufficient responses?
- Were all the stakeholders it was hoped to include involved?
- In particular, were any groups who needed to be present from an equality perspective missing or under-represented?
- Was sufficient time allowed before, during and after the engagement?
- Was the timetable achieved?
- Was the engagement publicised effectively enough?
- Did the cost of the engagement represent value for money?
- How did the results influence decisions?
- Were there any complaints and how were these handled?
- Did the our community feel listened to and treated with respect?
- What else have you learnt that worked?