Before starting any engagement activity, Metro South Health makes sure that engaging consumers and the community is the best thing to do.
If what consumers say can’t influence the decision or will not be used by the decision makers, a communication strategy may be better.
Step 1: Scope the activity
The purpose and scope of engagement
The purpose and role of consumer and community input in health service planning, design and monitoring is defined and communicated to participants from the start. It is important that the aspects of the decision that can and cannot be influenced are identified. Providing clear information about aspects of the decision not open to negotiation will assist in managing the expectations of consumers.
The level of influence consumers have
The level of influence consumers have on the decision ranges through the spectrum of engagement from inform to empower. Consumers may be engaged at different points of a project depending on the size and complexity of the project.
Identifying who needs to be involved
Engagement activities aim to include the broadest range of people. Understanding the diversity of the community is important. Anyone who may be affected by or have a specific interest in the decision or issue should be invited to take part in the engagement activity.
Step 2: Prepare and engage
Choosing engagement techniques
A wide range of engagement techniques are available to Metro South Health staff. Engagement techniques are chosen which are best suited to the level of influence that consumers have in the decision, the people who are being engaged and the resources available.
Planning for engagement
Engagement activities are planned and evaluated. Evaluation helps Metro South Health know what worked well, what didn’t work well and why. Evaluation information is used to improve future engagement planning.
Step 3: Decision making and feedback
Using consumer and community feedback in decision making
The information collected during an engagement activity is analysed and used by decision makers.
Providing feedback to consumers and the community
Feedback is provided to consumers and the community on how their input was used in the decision making process. Metro South Health values consumer and community input.
Feedback can be provided to consumers in a range of forms including:
- letters of thanks for their participation
- reports posted on the website or given to participants
- media releases and public announcements on project outcomes.
Step 4: Reporting
Metro South Health is accountable for reporting on consumer and community engagement activities. An Engagement Activity Report is completed at the end of an engagement activity.
The Engagement Activity Report helps Metro South Health to:
- report on engagement activities and how consumer/ community feedback is used to influence change and improve services
- share learnings and leverage from present of past engagement activities
- reduce duplication of engagement activities and to reduce ‘over-consulting’ certain groups.