Health and Social Care

Communications Focus: The Scottish Borders

September 1, 2015 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

Engagement Success with Simple Activity

People want to be heard and respected. This is often characterised as a basic psychological need which must be met in order for people to be content. In communication, and maybe particularly in corporate communication, it is a challenge to create an environment where everyone is heard. Corporate communication has a tendency to take the form of mass communication and it is often characterised by one-way information rather than two-way communication.


To have an information stand at an event and to engage the public by having them do something, an action, is a well-tested, successful way to communicate with an audience. The challenge is to find a way to make this new and fresh in order to catch their attention. As we know, new and fresh does not necessarily equal something fancy and technically advanced as accessibility is essential.

Scottish Borders Council, NHS Borders and third sector partners invited the public to come and talk about health and social care at their stand at the Border Union Show, the largest agricultural show in the area, on 24 and 25 July. A team from Health and Social Care Integration was present to get feedback from the public.

One winning formula

At the stand, the public was asked what was most important to them based on the 13 top priorities previously gathered from staff and public events. To create a novelty appeal, we mounted the 13 priorities on the wall on a large sheet of paper on the left hand side and on the right, a large white blank area waiting to be filled. The public were asked to place gold stars after the top three items they deemed most important.

This was a simple exercise, using paper and stickers, but it was most effective and successful. When asked, the public took the time to read the entire 13 point list, they considered it and made their selection. It was apparent that they enjoyed the process as the vast majority asked invested the time to complete the exercise. We assume this was successful because the feedback was visual and it did not require skills like nice handwriting or good spelling. The threshold for accomplishment was low, success rate was high, and it made them feel important and valued. They could also see what the people who had been there before them had prioritised, something which probably had a positive reinforcing effect.

About 120 people took the time to give feedback. They ranked ‘improved support for unpaid carers’ as most important, followed by ‘24/7 services’ and ‘early intervention’ which were ranked equally. In addition, the public had the opportunity to present their own tips to improve health and social care by writing them down and posting them on a space nearby. The writing team has received all the feedback and has worked it into the next draft of the strategic plan.

More than 300 people visited the partnership’s stand during the two days of the show. In addition to the health and social care integration programme, representatives from Mental Health, the Joint Health Improvement Team, Transport Hub, Dental Health, Learning Disability Service, Community Capacity Building and Safer Communities teams were present to talk to people about the benefits of maintaining good health in a safe environment.

Moving Forward

As the Scottish Borders moves towards the second consultation period, the communication plan is being updated and expanded. Engagement with staff, third sector partners and the public is not only something we are required to do, but it is something we want to do. We want to give everyone the opportunity to climb on board and help us create the Best Health, Best Care, Best Value for our communities across the Borders. We are currently working on an engagement plan where we are looking at some new methods to engaging with people.

For more information please contact:

Carin Pettersson

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