Once you're clear on what you're trying to achieve and have the backing of decision-makers within your organisation, you're ready to start planning your activity.
Decide who you need to involve
First, determine who you are targeting with your activity. This will largely be guided by your service improvement goal. For example if you are undertaking a redesign of your footcare pathway, then you will want to speak to people with a range of footcare experiences and potentially those who have had complications.
If you're trying to reduce ‘Did Not Attend’ rates for appointments then you should first identify who it is that aren’t currently attending. From this you can pinpoint characteristics they share to build a profile of who you should be targeting – for example, a specific age group, ethnicity or geographic area.
In any case, it is important that you seek to involve those people that aren’t currently engaged in health services. Every effort should also be made to ensure that you involve users who are representative of the local diabetes population
Decide the right approach
- Will it give me the information I need to achieve the service improvement goal?
- Is it appropriate/appealing for the profile of people I am targeting?
The most commonly used approaches:
- Engagement Events – medium to large scale events to generate broad discussions. Often broken into smaller table discussions.
- Focus Group – smaller group concentrating on one particular issue or topic.
- Interviews – one-to-one discussions on a specific topic.
- Service User Groups – ongoing advisory groups that meet regularly over a period of time.
- Questionnaires – paper or online surveys to gather feedback (usually) from a large number of people.
For more more information on common approaches and their pros and cons download our quick guide to engagement approaches (PDF, 335KB).
For most situations you will want to use a combination of approaches to try and reach as many different people as possible.
Prepare to recruit service users
For occasions when you are bringing people together, it's worthwhile having a venue and a time already arranged before you start to invite people – even if it isn’t an ‘open invitation’. There are some important things to think about regarding these practicalities for sessions including type of venue, timings and incentives. Download our overview on planning an engagement activity (PDF, 334KB).
Depending on the type of activity you are arranging, you may also need to prepare some additional materials. For example if you are trying to establish an ongoing user group, then you should consider putting in place role descriptions for its members and terms of reference for the group as a whole to ensure the group meets your needs. These needn’t be overly formal (decide for yourself how formal they need to be) but can be useful to help set out in advance the purpose of the group and what is expected of group members. They can allow you to ensure that you recruit service users with the appropriate skillset to be on the group, but also be mindful that being too formal may put many people off.
For more guidance, download an example Terms of Reference document for a service user group for Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) (Word, 220KB). It covers aims, guidance, support and training, regularity of meetings and what's expected of users.
Download an example role description (Word, 85K) for a patient representative on a Diabetes Commissioning Group led by the CCG.
You're now ready to start recruiting service users for your planned activity.