Engagement and sustainable transformation

You can't fatten the pig by weighing it!

Citizen capacity is a powerful force to tap into, if done right!

Have you noticed a preference from top-down administration to something more participatory? It feels like Institutions are exploring new ways to tap into the ideas and knowledge held by citizens…people recognise that citizen capacity is a powerful force to tap into! There’s now greater emphasis being placed on citizen engagement to help transform services - and we’re seeing this across healthcare.

It makes sense that people should have some power over the decisions that affect their lives. And it stands to reason that by understanding peoples lived experiences of interacting with healthcare services, we get to better understand what is working well and what can be improved.

However, in addition to actually speaking with folk, there’s a significant challenge to make sure that citizen engagement reaches far and wide enough so that the voices heard are representative. People also need to see that their views matter and can actually make a difference.

A quick google search will provide streams of advice and examples of citizen engagement approaches, but here are four that resonate with the work Healthwave have been involved with.

1. Its got to be easy

“If you could head here, login, sign-up and fill in this form”…erm, really?! It’s got to be easy for people to get involved and to share their feedback. Using one channel for people to do that isn’t going to cut the mustard.

2. There’s no one size fits all

“We survey people”…but can’t I contribute in another way? There are numerous examples and methods of engagement, which we can all learn from. From co-production, citizen assemblies, digital engagement, street surveys, community organising, focus groups, etc, etc. A multi-channel approach is important and should be considered in every engagement strategy.

3. Let people know they have power

“Thanks for your feedback”…then silence. We want to know that our opinion counts and that the time and effort spent sharing our views is valued. Letting people know that their contribution means something isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s essential.

4. Engagement leads to action (big or small)

“We really understand the issue now”…an old colleague would often use the phrase ‘you don’t fatten the pig by weighing it’. It’s an expression referring to the perils of measurement for measurements sake. The purpose of weighing the pig is to see whether it has put on weight and from that to see what needs to done to help it gain weight. The act of weighing it alone is not sufficient. Action must be taken based on the results.