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1 July 2022

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We have a strong history of involving people and working with partners across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to reach our diverse communities, to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be involved (with support available if required).

Involvement work on the transformation programme started in 2019 with a listening exercise. This was paused in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was restarted in 2021, with a refresh of previous activity. We wanted to understand if anything had changed, if there was anything new, and what impact the pandemic had had on experiences of health services.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a number of challenges and opportunities for the system, with a requirement to shift to a ‘Digital First’ approach instead of face-to-face discussions and involvement opportunities (retaining the use of traditional methods where possible).

Recognising the barriers this approach might have created for some people, we developed a series of robust approaches, including:

Accessibility Approach – a process to manage and monitor how we support people for whom English is not their first or preferred language, or who live with barriers to online routes to involvement (because of infrastructure and geographic connectivity, access to devices or skills)

Voluntary Sector Partnerships – a new approach to build on existing relationships with partners to either:

  • reach their networks with communications and updates, including invitations to participate in involvement activity
  • support their events by attending to provide an update, hear views and answer questions
  • host voluntary sector partners to translate online meetings and events, either in live scenarios or with translated recordings of presentations and updates being shared during discussions
  • access our extensive network of translation partners to provide materials in a range of alternative formats spanning languages, large-print, braille, BSL and others as requested.

Learning from COVID-19 – using the approaches developed during the system’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic to reach our diverse communities via the established network of trusted voices and trusted faces (people who are already living and working in the county, and in many cases in contact with communities we have historically struggled to reach). This approach has helped us understand communities better, appreciate their different cultural priorities and concerns, and benefit from an increased use of our networks and community relationships.

We are continuing to review alternative ways of providing virtual events to allow groups of people in face-to-face environments to participate and continue to review the best methods to deploy, based on current guidance and the audience we are involving.