Health leaders in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are looking for community champions to help spread the word about plans to transform the way healthcare is provided across the county.
The Together We’re Better programme, a partnership of health trusts, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities, aims to provide services which better meet the needs of local people, offer a greater focus on prevention and wellbeing, and work more effectively by breaking down the traditional boundaries between organisations so they work together to share ideas and learning.
The programme is looking to recruit 200 ‘ambassadors’ over the next few weeks, who will help by engaging with a wide range of people and local organisations to give them further details of Together We’re Better. They will ask questions and gather views and feedback to help shape the future direction of the plans.
Andrew Donald, Accountable Officer at Stafford and Surrounds, Cannock Chase and South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Groups and Engagement Lead for the Together We’re Better, said: “Our ambassadors will be people who can share information with colleagues, friends, family and fellow club, community group and organisation members – in fact, anyone they come into contact with who might have an interest in the future of health and social care in Staffordshire.
“It is a real opportunity to make sure that the voice of your community and those people that you know is heard and that future plans are influenced by all sections of the community.
“Together We’re Better is looking for people who come into contact with lots of people in their day-to-day life, either in person or through social media. You could be an active member of a patient participation group, Healthwatch, the Women’s Institute, or a member of a community centre management committee.
“You could be a local community advocate, a hospital volunteer or NHS worker, a school governor or you might meet lots of people through your place of worship or by running a luncheon club or parent of toddler group - if this is you, we’d love to hear from you.”
Ambassadors will be asked to share the key messages of Together We’re Better to at least two groups or meetings which they attend and to feed back any comments, concerns and ideas using a standard template.
They will also let people know how they can have a say on the programme and how they can spread the message more widely.
Ambassadors will receive an initial two-hour training session and details of a named contact they can go to for further information and support. They will also get a frequently-asked questions (FAQs) sheet which will be regularly updated as new points arise.
All of the feedback gathered will be analysed by Engaging Communities Staffordshire, an independent community interest company which champions the voice of patients and the community. The group will ensure that the views and ideas of patients and members of the public are taken into account as future plans are made.
Making changes to health and care services can be contentious, and ambassadors will have the opportunity to voice their own concerns in the same way as the people they are talking to – although when talking to people in an ambassadorial capacity they will just need to explain what is happening and encourage discussion around the key questions.
As volunteers, ambassadors will be eligible for travelling and parking expenses if they attend meetings or training outside of their usual attendance at groups, meetings or events.
Update: Training sessions for 2017 (choose between 10:30am-12:30 or 2-4pm) will take place at Healthwatch Staffordshire in Stafford on 11 January and 17 February; Codsall Village Hall on 23 January; Newcastle Community Fire Station in Newcastle-under-Lyme on 8 February (afternoon only); and 28 February, 16 March and 27 March at venues to be confirmed.