In this blog I talk about our approach to communication and engagement with providers of health and social care supporting the development of CQC’s new strategy.
An organisation’s strategy, when developed effectively, should clearly and concisely articulate it’s purpose and how it will be delivered. But more than that is a public declaration of your values and the impact you hope to achieve.
Beyond the benefits to directing and prioritising programmes of work a well constructed strategy gives you, it also has a powerful impact in how your regarded externally. What you say you’re going to do and why, along with effective delivery of it, drives how much trust and confidence your stakeholders place in you.
But setting out a compelling strategy by itself won’t deliver that trust. Getting this outcome is largely about how you engage and communicate around/about your strategy, as you develop it and when you launch it.
And as CQC has been developing it’s strategy over the last year, ensuring we have this trust and confidence from providers of health & social care and people who work in those services has been paramount.
We’ve done this by centring two principles in our engagement approach. Firstly we’ve worked to build understanding and a sense of ownership among providers. Understanding that we are developing a new strategy, why this is important, how we are proposing to change and the benefits we hope to achieve. Building a sense of ownership in the sense that people working across health and social care recognise that our strategy supports the delivery of good and effective care that they aspire to. Addressing the issues/barriers they recognise prevent the improvements in care we all want to see. And is responsive to what they have told us.
Secondly we wanted multiple opportunities to engage on and communicate about our strategy as it develops. This wasn’t going to be a process where we develop our thinking entirely by ourselves and then formally consult at the end of all this. There was a conscious decision for CQC to talk about our strategy externally at every stage of it’s development. Building understanding and gathering insight to adapt and shape it in response to what we hear.
What did we do
So how did we work to achieve the above. By delivering a programme of work across the last 12 months under three strands.
We wanted to build understanding with health and social care providers and professionals. Understanding of why we are thinking of changing, what our latest thinking was at different points and what this means for them. We did this largely through direct targeted communication, using channels and content our insight told us reached them and was in a format they wanted.
This included email bulletins to give regular updates. A series of podcast episodes (example) that allowed people to hear in depth from colleagues leading on developing the strategy. Videos that described elements of the strategy in depth (here and here). And blogs from senior colleagues including our chief executive to describe our strategic direction overall.
At regular points CQC went out to gather feedback on elements of the strategy we were thinking about, from providers and health & social care professionals. This insight helped us understand the impact proposals we were developing might have and how they would be received. Ensuring we were better able to develop a strategy that reflects the reality of a complex health and social care landscape.
This part of our work was possibly the most difficult, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years CQC may have been able to deliver multiple face to face events and a national roadshow of engagement. This wasn’t possible in the last 12 months. In addition everyone working in health and social care have been working at or beyond capacity. This all meant we needed to delver a programme of engagement activity that was digital but also not burdensome for people to participate in.
We did this by rapidly developing the ability to deliver large scale webinars and smaller online coproduction sessions. Multiple short surveys and make use of our digital engagement platform to gather qualitative insight.
It was also important to have focussed conversations with stakeholders who represent the sectors CQC regulate. We used these to share our current thinking and have a conversation about whether this felt right and what the implications of doing these things might be. These conversations helped us check that we’d interpreted and used the wider insight we collected well and that the conclusions we’d reached made sense, even when stakeholders didn’t agree with everything we are proposing.
Right now we’re in the formal consultation stage and CQC will launch the strategy in May. So in many ways this feels like the culmination of this piece of work. But actually, though there has been 12 months of work to get here, this is just the start. From May CQC will begin the work of implementing the strategy, a piece of work spanning five years. And through implementation the strands of inform, insight and sense check will be as important as ever.