Innovative approaches to engagement and empowerment and the adaption of those approaches during the covid-19 period.
Engagement methods which have been used by DHI during health and care process co-design work have included semi-structured interviews, community engagement, and workshops. Prior to Covid-19 the approach taken centred mainly around face-to-face workshops of half or a whole day. These events were used to gather contextual information (often patient pathways) and to elect areas to focus on and prioritise them. This worked well however was not possible during the pandemic.
The revised method relied more heavily on semi-structured interviews prior to a group event, moving the information gathering portion of the work outside the group event. This has proven to be very fruitful, with rich contextual information being gathered early in the process. The main areas of focus can also be gathered in this way leaving any group event to check the information which has been gathered and then select the most pressing areas to focus on.
We have also had to alter approaches to community engagement and have had success in on line engagement in the form of MSForms (community engagement promoted through FaceBook , Radio interviews, news papers and web sites and also offering a non digital alternative) and using an electronic whiteboard which was used for all staff at a Health Board. Themes were identified and feedback was requested from staff who were able to input anonymously.

Resources needed

The engagement which uses MS Forms requires a MS 365 license and electronic whiteboard used was Miro which also requires a license .

Evidence of success

The community engagement using MS Forms in Shetland resulted in 200 responses. The information gathered was rich and a mixture of quantitative and qualitative. Themes were gathered which then influenced the clinical strategy of the Health Board. The use of the Miro board to engage with staff was very well used with more than 50 interactions on a day. Staff posted comments and interestingly, started discussion threads and were returning to the board to check the responses.

Difficulties encountered

The main challenge was the setting up and structuring the areas being explored. Fot the staff engagement tool, over 30 interviews took place prior to the board being released, allowing the focus areas and questions to be posed with a level of confidence . This proved invaluable preparation.

Potential for learning or transfer

DHI has already developed an approach to engagement and empowerment which had proved successful before the pandemic however we were forced to adapt this approach during covid-19. This led us to examine the two main areas covered in a workshop: context gathering and sharing and the identification of opportunities and creative responses to them. We learned that the time in the group setting (which is much harder in a virtual environment) can be enhanced through more extensive interviews prior to the event. While collaboration is still a challenge in the virtual environment, the pace of the work is helped by gathering the context beforehand and having more time to anticipate areas for focus.

Paper based tools were offered and made available in a public setting in both the community and the staff scenarios however they were not used. The reason for this was not researched but may prove to be an interesting area of study.
Main institution
Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre (DHI)
Eastern Scotland, United Kingdom
Start Date
March 2020
End Date


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