Citizen Engagement in Health Casebook: CIHR documents successes and lessons
Friday, June 15th, 2012

CIHR’s (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) Citizen Engagement in Health Casebook offers succinct examples of diverse national and provincial initiatives spanning an array of health-related policy issues. There is profound value in engaging the public to share their values and opinions on health care challenges – this Casebook is a useful reference for both practitioners and decision-makers wanting to know more about how to do this well.  Please click here for your own copy!

The Casebook’s 14 stories were selected from 40 submissions by a team of leading health professionals, academics and CE practitioners (Carolyn Lukensmeyer, America Speaks; Roger Chafe, Memorial University; Wendy Levinson, University of Toronto; Andreas Laupacis, St. Michael’s Hospital; Karen Born, St. Michael’s Hospital). The team notes that while each case offers a unique perspective, collectively they identify the following shared conclusions and lessons learned:

  • Citizen engagement impacts policy decisions;
  • Citizen engagement can bridge divides;
  • The importance of communication and knowledge translation; and,
  • Employing multiple methods of engagement allows for more diversity.

At Ascentum, we’ve gained extensive experience in health care policy and planning over the past 9 years. We are happy to have been involved in four of the 14 cases selected for the Casebook, which are described below. Three of our staff members – Mary Pat MacKinnon, Nicole Pollack, and Tristan Eclarin – co-authored two of the case studies!

  1. Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) Creating a Mental Health Strategy for Canada – This national public and stakeholder engagement initiative featured a series of regional and focused stakeholder dialogues across the country, with online public consultations as a complementary channel for citizen engagement. The process engaged participants in a deliberative dialogue on the goals outlined in the MHCC’s draft mental health strategy framework document. All of the valuable feedback gained from this process helped inform Canada’s first-ever national mental health strategy, which was announced last month!
  2. New Brunswick Health Council’s (NBHC) Our Health. Our Perspectives. Our Solutions – This provincial citizen engagement initiative asked what people value most in the provincial health system, how it can be strengthened, and what can be done to improve provincial health outcomes overall. Through a series of deliberative dialogues, the feedback gathered from citizens and stakeholders helped establish a common vision for a citizen-centred health system in New Brunswick. The key findings enlightened the NBHC’s 2011 recommendations to the Minister of Health.
  3. Canadian Blood Services’ (CBS) Improving Organ and Tissue Donation in Canada – This public and stakeholder engagement process gathered perspectives from health professionals, patients, and the public on designing a more integrated organ and tissue donation system to improve service efficiencies and patient outcomes across Canada. The results of the dialogue informed CBS’s recommendations to Canada’s health ministers.
  4. North West Local Health Integration Network’s (LHIN) Share Your Story. Shape Your Care – This project used a suite of online tools to engage citizens and stakeholders in setting priorities for the region’s Integrated Health Services Plan (IHSP). In 2009, this project was awarded the International Association for Public Participation’s (IAP2) Core Values Award of the Year for “Innovative Use of Technology.” It’s also  similar to our current work with the South East LHIN!

We want to thank the CIHR for profiling all 14 cases. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Howard Chodos from the MHCC and Shirley Smallwood from the NBHC for their collaboration in reflecting on successes and lessons learned. And of course we must thank our clients – the MHCC, the NBHC, CBS and the North West LHIN.  Without their commitment and vision, we would have missed the opportunity to do this meaningful work, which places citizens at the centre of the health care system – where they belong.

-Mary Pat MacKinnon & Tristan Eclarin-

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