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Recruiting service users

This stage of a user involvement project is vital, and often takes the most time. To get it right, we suggest giving yourself at least 6-8 weeks on spreading the messages through different channels.

Develop a recruitment planRecruitment process for an ongoing group

Develop a recruitment plan

Ideally you would develop a Recruitment Plan.Download an example recruitment plan (Word, 81KB)set up by West Hampshire CCG ahead of a planned engagement event. It sets out the different methods used to reach people and encourage them to get involved. 

Useful tips and pointers to consider when planning:

  • Keep promotional material simple and eye-catching. Leaflets and posters are helpful to pick up some ‘easy’ recruits, but will not be massively effective.
  • Build relationships with local community groups. It is likely that there are already people and groups already working with your target profile of users so make use of them where you can. By building relationships with local community leaders you can learn the easiest ways to reach people, and may even get help from people to promote the activities.
  • Other health professionals will be a key source of recruits – get them on board in what you’re trying to achieve. You’ll need as much help as possible from people who come into contact with service users.
  • Include a named contact in all promotional materials and ask people to register. Knowing how many you are expecting will help you to plan the session and judge whether you need to do more promotion in different areas.

Recruitment process for an ongoing group

To recruit people to an ongoing user group or as a patient representative, we'd suggest a relatively formal process.

You'll need someone suitable who is able to make a valid contribution. For example, an ongoing service user reference group should have a link into the decision-making processes for diabetes services. Or you may be looking for patient representatives to have a place on a decision-making group within your organisation (ie on a clinical management board).In turn, potential members or representatives will need to understand their role and be clear about what they're committing themeselves to.

To recap on developing terms of reference for the service user group and role descriptions for the group go to the recruit service users section of theplanning page.

What to use

As part of the process, you may want to use:

  • A short application form requesting some details about the person, why they want to be involved and what they think they could bring to the role. Download anexample application form(Word, 84KB).

Or you may prefer to:

  •  or ask them for a short written statement of interest in the role.

As well as the above, or instead of, informal discussions by phone or face-to-face will provide a way to ensure a good match. It’s good to have a conversation with people who are potentially going to be involved long-term and to ascertain how they will be able to bring the views of other people they are representing to meetings. Download anexample framework for discussions(Word, 80KB).

Limiting numbers

Not everyone will be right for this sort of role and you will need to limit numbers - it is ok to have specific criteria and to turn people down (but try to offer them an alternative way to get involved).When you are happy that all reasonable efforts have been made to recruit service users and you have an idea of how many to expect you can start to think aboutdelivering the activity- the next stage of the user involvement process. 

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