Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust provides health and wellbeing services such as health visiting, sexual health, and dentistry across Lancashire at over more than 400 sites.  They have over 9000 members who have joined because they want to have their voice heard in an organisation that matters to them, as well as be kept up-​to-​date and informed about services and events.  The members have elected a group of 23 governors, who attend events delivered by service providers, listen to the views of the attendees, and report back and hold the Trust board to account.  

The Leapfrog team is working with David Keddie, Stakeholder Engagement Manager and Mark Grimshaw, Assistant Company Secretary (who has recently moved to an NHS Trust in Liverpool) and the governors at the Trust to collaboratively design mechanisms/​tools/​resources to help the governors actively listen, record and prioritise the information they receive from the public and members to scrutinise and challenge the board.

To begin the process, Leapfrog ran a small workshop to map out and understand the governor’s current engagement process and how they would make the process better, especially if they had a magic wand!  The mapping process enabled the group to break down and simplify the processes they use and establish what they would like to improve.

We discovered that in the current process, the governors currently receive information from their Communications Team about events they could attend by email and it is often hard to prioritize those most relevant to attend.  In the actual events, governors involvement is often passive and it is difficult to find out who has a view-​point they would like to share, also after an event it is not clear if the viewpoints are adequately reported to the board, and if the feedback is used.

The working group has many ideas about what they thought should be improved about their engagement and reporting process and how they could begin to do it.  Some of the ideas included:

  • The organisation of localised engagement events, where governors from those areas could attend, as well as targeting existing events in order to meet people who don’t normally engage as well as people who are healthy and well, e.g. festivals.
  • A way to clearly see what events are coming up and if they are relevant, e.g. a shared accessible calendar.
  • A way to openly and visibly record anecdotes, such as a ‘BBC listening booth’.
  • A way to raise awareness of the Trust, the role of the governors and build good relationships.
  • A way to make use of expertise of bordering Trusts and governors in other organisations, e.g. schools.
  • Creating a gold membership scheme for more active members who want to be involved in more things. Potentially developing membership ‘perks’.
  • A way to identify themes and patterns in opinions that are gathered and triangulate it with evidence from other sources.
  • A way to report back that opinions have been listened to, and what changes are happening as a result.
  • A way to involve a greater number of people, not just members, and people of different ages.  How are they identified?
  • A way to equip governors with knowledge and the best answers to give if someone approaches them with a complaint or shares something personal, as well as a method for understanding what’s the ‘nub’ of the problem and if it is a problem others have, therefore indicating that something needs to be done about it.

Some of these ideas are more relevant to the area we are exploring in the Rigorous Stories project than others, but Leapfrog will be reporting back on all the ideas to the group before the next workshop. At the second workshop in August, we will look at how the most relevant ideas can be prioritised and used to create tools, collaborating with the group in the Lancaster’s Imagination space.