The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) requires each local authority and NHS Board to integrate many of their health and social care services and budgets. The agreed local solution is that Orkney Islands Council (OIC) and NHS Orkney form an Integration Joint Board (IJB) to lead the policy, direction and delivery of services in Orkney.
The Act requires the IJB to compose a Strategic Commissioning Plan, setting-out the priorities and direction of future services that will be commissioned by the IJB to meet the health and wellbeing needs of local people.
The first, high-level, Strategic Commissioning Plan Summary Draft was published on 1 October 2015, outlining the IJB’s initial proposals. The views of local health and social care professionals from throughout OIC, NHS Orkney, the third sector and other stakeholders were sought via an online survey, with the views and opinions expressed helping to inform the final Draft Strategic Commissioning Plan.
Copies of the full version Draft Strategic Commissioning Plan were made available via the Council website (including a fully accessible version) and the NHS website, along with paper copies at the Council offices in Kirkwall, the libraries in Kirkwall and Stromness, and all GP surgeries throughout the county, including the isles.
In addition, 4 drop-in sessions were held throughout the Mainland, where paper copies of the plan were available.
The drop-in sessions served to give folk the opportunity to ask questions about the plan and provide their input. One session included a telephone engagement event, where folk could call to ask questions and have their say.
In a first for the Council, there was a “virtual consultation” session, where the Chief Officer answered questions from Facebook users, on the plan and the future of Orkney Health and Care.
A publicity campaign encouraged folk to complete our survey on the Strategic Commissioning Plan. This was made available online (via Survey Monkey), along with paper copies and postage-paid envelopes at the drop-in sessions, Council offices, libraries and GP surgeries.
Respondents were asked 4 questions, each of which included the opportunity to comment further.
All responses were considered and helped to shape the final version of the Strategic Commissioning Plan.
Four drop-in sessions were held during the consultation period:
Each session was open from 14:00 – 19:00, with at least three Orkney Health and Care officers available to answer questions, along with a representative of the Scottish Health Council.
The sessions were extensively promoted in The Orcadian, Radio Orkney and on social media, as well as on posters in libraries and in GP surgeries.
It should be noted that visitors to the Drop-in sessions were encouraged to complete the survey and, as a result, many of the responses and comments received in the survey can be recognised from comments received at the Drop-in sessions.
There was concern that some people, especially in the isles, would be unable to attend the Drop-in Sessions. One solution that was tried was to make a dedicated phone line available, at the Kirkwall Drop-in Session, so that people could call with questions and comments.
Unfortunately, despite featuring the phone number in all of our publicity materials and social media postings, no-one called.
An email address was also published to allow folk the opportunity to pose questions and comment on the Strategic Plan. Again, however, no responses were received via this route.
In an effort to engage with a wider audience, the service held a “Virtual” Consultation Session, where Facebook users were able to put questions directly to Caroline Sinclair, OHAC Chief Officer.
A large number of questions were answered in the 1 hour allocated to the session, with 26 people actively engaging with the event.
In addition to this, some 112 people viewed the discussion, making this session the most popular, by far, of the different approaches to engagement. As such, this event is viewed as a significant success, with similar sessions planned for other services throughout the Council.
Comments at the sessions and in the survey responses were varied, covering a number of services. Specific replies included:
We will bear all comments and responses in mind as the IJB commissions the future planning and development of health and social care services
With the exception of the Virtual Consultation Session, the level of response to the consultation was disappointing.
Nonetheless, the Virtual Session demonstrated that people are keen to engage with the planning of their services and, given the right environment, are enthusiastic to have their say.
As society and the way that people interact changes, so, too, will the methods used to consult and engage with people. Whilst it will always be necessary to undertake drop-in sessions and make paper surveys available, the use of technology and, especially, social media, will become increasingly important as we seek to involve folk in the planning and delivery of their services.