How can governments evaluate how they engage citizens and how can these processes be improved to bring citizens and governments closer together?
This question is at the core of Engaging with Impact, an ambitious new MASS LBP project to identify the engagement practices that are most meaningful to citizens and suggest new ways for Ontario's Local Health Integration Networks to enhance and track their progress.
As part of the project's research program, three Citizens’ Workshops on Engagement and Health were recently held in Kingston, Richmond Hill and Thunder Bay.
The first half of each day was dedicated to learning about the ins and outs of the health care system, as well as the challenges and complications the LHINs sometimes face when it comes to engaging with their communities.
With the learning phase complete, MASS LBP facilitators guided participants through three exercises to establish a working definition of engagement, devise a series of metrics, and determine a series of priorities concerning the efforts made by LHINs to engage their communities.
Each afternoon concluded with a plenary discussion where the participants were asked to rank and cluster the work of each group. Participants also had the opportunity to complete a post-process survey that examined their attitudes, health knowledge as well as their own expectations for the session and reflections on their participation.
The final report is to include a series of essays addressing the challenge of evaluating engagement in both Canada and the UK. The report also details the public process MASS LBP undertook and the recommendations that emerged from the three events. The final section combines these insights and proposes a clear and comprehensive system of targets and indicators for use in Ontario's health system.
Engaging With Impact: Targets and indicators for successful community engagement by Ontario’s LHINs will be released Spring 2009.