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Giving local people a voice on health and social care services in County Durham

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Making engagement more meaningful


Many health and social care providers talk about “engaging” the public when developing their services but what does this really mean?

The truth is, it isn’t always clear and often when providers or commissioners refer to “engagement” they mean different things. While some just gather patient feedback and then make decisions themselves, others may involve patients more fully in designing and planning change.

At Healthwatch we believe engagement should be meaningful: patient feedback should really be listened to and acted upon. So, we have published our views on “making engagement meaningful” to help make things clearer.

We hope everyone who commissions or provides health and social care in County Durham will use these guidelines to shape how they gather public and patient feedback and use this to make their services better.

Some of the elements we believe are key to good engagement include:

  • clear, consistent and accessible language in all documents and information – no jargon or hard words
  • the public seen as equal partners in developing solutions and approaches
  • events and meetings should accessible (accessible to people with disabilities and easily reached on public transport, with adaptations made for attendees’ communication needs) and held at various times to allow for maximum attendance
  • outreach approaches should be utilised to engage communities, including those deemed ‘hard to reach’

If you are a commissioner or service provider looking to engage patients and public and would like any advice we would be happy to help. Call our team on 0800 304 7039.

Read our advice in full


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Next event

Healthwatch County Durham Board Meeting will take place on 08 Oct 2019