Support from internal constituencies for involving members of the public in your work is an essential element for success. Prepare your organization’s leadership, professionals and other staff. Be sure they understand the value of this input and help them see the positive benefits, even if it seems unfamiliar or is viewed as burdensome.
Three key reasons:
Every organization has its own unique environment. You know yours best. Adapt these strategies to your organization’s operational culture.
Here are some common challenges faced when trying to gain buy-in and prepare members of an organization to welcome input from patients, families and community members.
It’s not necessary to make a major investment to effectively engage community members in your work and it needn’t be a full-time job. But time will need to be allocated to recruit, select, and train them to serve as advisers, as well as prepare the organization’s staff to integrate these advisers into their work. Keep the goals of the work top of mind, and set a realistic time frame for the work based on your staff capacity.
Find an executive sponsor if at all possible. Also, many organizations have key staff members at the operational level who help translate the leadership’s vision into programs. Frequently, these individuals are existing professional staff who are well-respected and who have institutional memory and the necessary connections at both the administrative and front-line levels to get things done.
If you work in a clinical environment, it’s likely that partnering with members of the public is not a familiar role for many on your team. Clinicians, administrators and others may feel that their expertise will not be validated, that community advisers will disclose private information to others outside of the organizations, or that they will make unreasonable or impractical suggestions. Address each of these concerns as part of your work in preparing the organization to accept this valuable input.
That’s a great start! See Essential Element 5 for tips on how to welcome and support community input on your project.