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Communication and Engagement Strategy

Why do we want a Communication and Engagement Strategy?

With full integration of health and social care services starting on 1 April 2016 it will see one of the biggest transformations in health and social care in a generation.

To ensure the voices of the most vulnerable are heard in Orkney, the proactive involvement of service users, their families, carers, staff and partners, is recognised as a key priority to inform and guide the work of Orkney Health and Care arrangements under new legislation.

We want to make sure that our stakeholders have positive opportunities to get involved and truly influence the way services are designed and delivered.
We know that, the better informed and engaged people are about services provided, the more satisfied they are likely to feel. Good communications that are clear, honest and transparent and that seek to involve stakeholders early on in the process, help build trust. Effective communications can therefore lead to better services, an improved reputation and stronger, more positive relationships with stakeholders – the people we serve, our partners in the public, the voluntary and private sectors and of course the employees who deliver the services.

This Strategy is designed to guide the work of the Orkney Health and Care Partnership in how it communicates with the wider community and provide opportunities for people to play their part in the way services are planned across Orkney and should sit alongside the OIC Communication Strategy and NHS Communication and Engagement Strategy and The Orkney Partnership Communication and Engagement Strategy.


There is a strong tradition in Orkney of communicating and engaging with communities. Orkney Health and Care will be required to build on this and look for innovative new approaches to active participation and community engagement.

It will be for the members of Orkney Health and Care to further develop their communication and engagement priorities, identified in the action plan (appendix 1), as we move onwards from April 2016.

Legislative Context

Integration of health and social care is the Scottish Government’s ambitious programme of reform to improve services for people who use health and social care services. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, is the legislative underpinning to Integration and sets out key planning and delivery principles of which Communication and Engagement are key components. Locally, the newly established Integration Joint Board (IJB) will ensure that health and social care provision across Orkney is joined-up and seamless, especially for people with long term conditions and disabilities, many of whom are older people.

There are several other drivers including local and national policies, guidance and legislation which place a duty on Orkney Health and Care to Communicate and Engage with the public.

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

The Act will help to empower community bodies through the ownership or control of land and buildings and by strengthening their voices in decisions about public services.

Part 10 of the Act focuses on Participation in Public Decision-Making. ‘A new regulation-making power, enabling Ministers to require Scottish public authorities to promote and facilitate the participation of members of the public in the decisions and activities of the authority, including in the allocation of its resources. Involving people and communities in making decisions helps build community capacity and also helps the public sector identify local needs and priorities and target budgets more effectively’.

The Orkney Partnership Board lead on this locally through a number of groups who champion key priorities for Orkney, two of which directly relate to health and care services. They have produced a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan (LOIP) which describes what Orkney aims to achieve by working in partnership, over and above what could be achieved by working as individual organisations. It shows the strategic priorities for action and how they have been selected. If you would like to know more about the community planning arrangements in Orkney and who the key stakeholders are, visit the LOIP website via the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

Our Voice

Our Voice is based on a vision where people who use health and care services, carers and the public will be enabled to engage purposefully with health and social care providers to continuously improve and transform services. People will be provided with feedback on the impact of their engagement or a demonstration of how their views have been considered.

The project is overseen by a Project Steering Group which includes representatives from the Scottish Government, the Scottish Health Council, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, The Alliance and COSLA.

The implementation of the Our Voice framework will be overseen by a Project Delivery Group based at the Scottish Health Council, which is part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

National Health and Wellbeing Outcomes

The National Health and Wellbeing Outcomes are high-level statements of what health and social care partners are attempting to achieve through integration and, ultimately, through the pursuit of quality improvement across health and social care.

Outcome 8 concentrates on engagement: ‘People who work in health and social care services feel engaged with the work they do and are supported to continuously improve the information, support, care and treatment they provide’.

NHS Reform (Scotland) Act 2004

This act places a duty on NHS Boards to engage with local communities in developing the shape of health services. The duty to engage with the public extends to every part of NHS Orkney and our every-day practice.

NHS Staff Governance Standard

This is the overarching policy for partnership working, employment practice and employee relations. The standard specifies that all staff are entitled to be:

Patient Focus Public Involvement

In 2006, Patient Focus Public Involvement was launched nationally. Patient focus, public involvement, often referred to as PFPI, emphasises two different ways in which people can participate in healthcare.

Patient Focus: means the provision of treatments and services which put the needs of the person at the centre to improve their experiences and outcomes of care and treatment. Patient focus is something that should take place every day in the interaction between staff and patients aiming to improve the patient experience.

Public Involvement: means involving people in decisions about how their health service is designed and provided. Public involvement should be part of the planning approach of an organisation.

Each NHS Board has a designated Director with responsibility for patient participation and public involvement. In NHS Orkney this is the Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions.


This is essentially where professionals and citizens share power to plan and deliver support services together, recognising that both partners have a vital contribution to make. Further information on co-production can be found at the Scottish Co-production Network.

It is the aim of this strategy to define the vision and the framework and create the conditions where people’s views really do count. It is about creating an environment in which more people actively work in partnership with the Integrated Joint Board, Orkney Health and Care, in shaping how we plan and commission services as we go forward. In addition how the IJB and the functions for which it is responsible work more actively in partnership with local communities to deliver its priorities and aim and improve the health and well-being of the people of Orkney.

How will Orkney Health and Care communicate and engage?

As the partnership between NHS Orkney and Orkney Islands Council is further strengthened through the IJB, it is important that Orkney Health and Care communicates its role and its ambitions, and how these will be achieved.

With this in mind, the following guiding principles should be at the heart of our communications and engagement activity:

National Standards for Community Engagement

Through our communications and engagement activities we will seek to shape service improvement, service development and co-production using the following standards:

Our communications and engagement activity

Our communications and engagement strategy needs to evolve over time to reflect changes in the way people expect to be informed, find information for themselves and provide us with feedback.

Planned Communication methods

Traditional media remains important, but as more and more of us go ‘digital by choice’ we need to make good use of social media and other digital channels as well.

Key information for staff, service groups and facilities will be disseminated using existing channels. We will also explore new channels of communication to ensure all staff, including those who are ‘difficult to reach’, are well informed and have the opportunity to provide feedback.

For a wider audience, press releases, feature ideas and interview opportunities will be provided for local and, where appropriate, more specialist media outlets.

An Orkney Health and Care section has been created and promoted on the Orkney Islands Council website, with links to this from the NHS Orkney website. Content including case studies and news items will be updated, refreshed and expanded on a regular basis.

The Chief Officer is providing a regular blog for the public and staff. This is published on the OIC website and on the NHS Orkney intranet and publicised using both organisations’ social media channels.

Social media enables wide dissemination of information, and gives individuals, communities and organisations the opportunity to provide valuable feedback. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are increasingly the communications channels of choice for many in our community, reflecting exponential growth in the use of social media.

As a result it has become increasingly important for the Council and NHS Orkney to use the most popular social media platforms to communicate and engage with the public. Consideration will be given to whether Orkney Health and Care should establish its own social media presence.

Innovative approaches such as live Facebook discussions have already been trialled. A successful Facebook chat was held as part of the consultation on the IJB’s Strategic Commissioning Plan using the OIC Updates Facebook page. The response during the live discussion, and subsequent feedback, suggest that further events of this kind should be held in future and would be popular with the public.

Since March 2015, the Council has provided an audio casting service for Committee and Full Council meetings and it is planned that this will be extended to IJB Meetings. Audio casting offers the public the opportunity to listen-in to meetings in the Council Chamber as they happen, raising awareness of the policy and decision making process, and giving people a greater understanding of the work of the organisation. In addition, a listen-again facility is provided via the Council website.

In summary

Our communications and engagement activity needs to be relevant to people and their lives. They will help people better understand the new arrangements and what differences they will make. Also, they will provide reassurance that excellent community health and social care services will continue to be provided throughout Orkney under the oversight of the IJB.

Through our engagement and communications activities we will:

Communication and Engagement Groups

There are a number of local groups already established which communicate and engage with the public, individuals, members health and care services.

Orkney Peer Network

The Peer Network is an opportunity for people to help shape services by sharing experiences, supporting improvement activity and having your voice represented within the IJB by an elected representative. Led by Voluntary Action Orkney, work is currently being undertaken to establish a wider database of individuals who are interested in different topics of healthcare, and willing to be involved in helping to shape the design of services.

To ensure that health and care services are shaped and influenced by people who know and understand the reality of life in Orkney, the Network look for folk from all backgrounds and of all ages to share their experience and ideas. They are committed to listening to all and to using their stories to continue improving services for the whole community.

The Orkney Partnership

In order to comply with the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the Orkney Partnership Board lead on communication and engagement through 3 delivery groups. Two of these groups have elements of health and care services provided in Orkney. There are a range of stakeholders including IJB Board members, services users and the voluntary sector which the groups engage with in order to deliver the strategic priorities aims and outcomes.

Service User Focus Groups

These groups are set up in specific locations such, as care homes, with the aim of engaging service users, their families and carers providing an opportunity to contribute to changes in the delivery of services.

Public and Patient Reference Group

The Public and Patient Reference Group is established to ensure that staff and patients/carers, as well as the wider public, are involved and engaged in this significant programme and to support new ways of working and investment.

The core Public and Patient Reference Group is made up of members representing a wide community of patients, carers, members of the public, voluntary organisations and community council representatives. Each member will bring to the group particular knowledge or expertise. They are also able to draw upon or consult with groups, organisations, networks or individuals when they feel it is relevant.

Person Centred Care Group

The role of this group is to ensure there is strategic oversight and a systematic approach to the improvement, delivery and sustainability of person-centred care within the organisation. The group is made up of professionals and representatives and reports to the NHS Orkney Quality and Improvement Committee.

Staff Communication Groups

Both NHS Orkney and OIC have staff communications groups. OIC have established a Communication and Engagement focus group in 2013 and NHS Orkney have a forum (Team Orkney Communication) where representatives of each department engage with a member of the Executive management team as well as a separate group who meet to look at developing communication within the organisation.

Communication and Engagement work stream

This group involves staff from both NHS Orkney and OIC and was established to look at how to strengthen communication and engagement activities across the organisations.

Patient Participation Groups

There are currently two groups set up in Orkney at Dounby and Heleindi GP Practices. These groups are established to support and improve the services of their respective surgeries through patient engagement.

What happens next?

This initial strategy sets out the overarching aims for the IJB’s communications and engagement activities. The next step is to work on the actions identified in the Action Plan over the next year and review the strategy thereafter.

Related Sites

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS