Our approach to working with people and communities

Public involvement is an essential part of making sure that effective and efficient health and care services are delivered with people and communities at the centre.

By reaching, listening to, involving and empowering our people and communities, we can ensure that local people are at the heart of decision making and that we put our population’s needs at the core of all we do.

By working together people can help us improve all aspects of health care, giving people the power to live healthier lives. The insights and diverse thinking of people and communities are essential to enabling us to deliver our priorities, and to tackle health inequalities.

We want the people of Somerset to help us develop their local health care services and have meaningful involvement in decision making, where people have a genuine opportunity to influence. 

We follow 10 principles for working with people and communities

In Somerset we have adopted the national 10 principles of working with people and communities to help ensure we meet our public duties in a meaningful way. These have been adapted through co-design for Somerset:

  1. Put the voices of people and communities at the centre of decision making and governance.
  2. Understand our community’s needs, experience and aspirations for health and care, with a strong focus on underrepresented communities.
  3. Involve people at the start in developing plans and feedback how their engagement has influenced decision-making and ongoing service improvement, including when changes cannot be made.
  4. Ensure that insight from groups and communities who experience health inequalities is sought effectively and used to make changes in order to reduce inequality in, and barriers to, care.
  5. Build relationships with underrepresented groups, especially those affected by inequalities, ensuring their voices are heard to help address health inequalities.
  6. Work with Healthwatch and the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector as key partners.
  7. Through partnership working, co-production, insight and public engagement address system priorities in collaboration with people and communities, demonstrating accountable health and care.
  8. Use community development approaches that empower people and communities, building community capacity.
  9. Provide clear and accessible public information about vision, plans and progress, to build understanding and trust.
  10. Learn from what works and build on the assets of all ICS partners – networks, relationships and activity in local places – to maximise the impact of involvement.

NHS Somerset would like to do things differently, we have started to outline how we will approach this in our people and communities engagement strategy.

Read our current engagement strategy: working with people and communities.

This is only the start though; our engagement strategy will adapt and respond to our changing environment as we work as an ICS, and as we work with more people and communities to develop our plans together.

As our work develops we will refresh our engagement strategy, taking into account new developments, ways of working and our new ICS strategy and joint forward plan.