It’s standard practice to involve people in discussions about their own care and in ideas for how to support them while restrictions are in place. But what about your service or organisation’s whole response to COVID and your plans for the coming months?
It’s important to look at who you have been involving and how you have done it.
What weight has been given to consumers’ perspectives in your decision making? If the answer is not much, it’s time to look more deeply at why that’s the case, and what you might be missing out on.
Did you make all the decisions and simply communicate them out, or did you invite responses?
Did you ask people what they thought about the decisions you’d already made, or did you ask them what decisions they wanted made?
Did you ask for feedback or comments, or did you invite discussion?
Did you ask for ideas, or did you invite people to help create and enact the ideas?
Each of these is a step closer towards partnership and collaboration.
Let’s look at that in practical terms.
Lots of providers have conducted a survey of consumers and families to check in with people about the service’s response. That’s a great first step. But how can you keep the conversation going so it’s not just a one-off? How could you turn it into a discussion instead of just a question?
Providers have increased their communications out to consumers and their families, making sure they stay in touch and keep people informed throughout the crisis. Is there an opportunity to use those communication channels differently to support a two-way conversation?
Providers have asked consumers for ideas for how the service could support them differently during the pandemic. But their involvement doesn’t have to end there. Could you invite people to be part of exploring, discussing, and co-creating new approaches?
Services share with us a lot of reasons why they can’t engage more deeply and why the costs and risks are too high. We know that these anxieties are heightened in times of crisis, particularly when people’s health is threatened.
But part of developing your engagement is recognising that inviting others in isn’t the problem. It can, and should, be part of the solution.
You don’t have to be responsible for providing all the answers on your own. Consumers and their families and friends can be your allies and supporters.
This is not the only major crisis that many people in your community, including aged care consumers, have lived through. Consumers and their families and communities bring a wealth of experience and ideas and they have access to resources, skills, and knowledge that can be of practical help.
Your staff – especially frontline staff – are also an important resource, particularly given the relationships they have with consumers and their families as well as their own professional and life experiences.
Engagement also doesn’t have to be a major project, or expensive. It can be a matter of just using the resources you already have in a different way.
Stay tuned for some practical tips and ideas to help you look at what you might be able to try in your service.
Looking for some more specific or tailored help? Click here for more information on how we can work with your organisation or contact us now on (07) 3316 2999.