Committed to the delivery of safe, quality healthcare services close to home, Southlake Regional Health Centre (Southlake) and Stevenson Memorial Hospital (Stevenson) are committed to engaging with our respective internal and external communities using best practice principles.
Why are Southlake and Stevenson working together on community engagement?
Since the 1990s, Southlake and Stevenson have benefited from a collaborative working relationship. Although Stevenson maintains a separate governance structure, Southlake provides a number of key leadership positions, including Stevenson’s President and CEO. In addition, several computerized systems, policies and procedures, and staff training and education are shared between the two Hospitals. Perhaps most importantly both Southlake and Stevenson share a common responsibility to the communities we serve—to be accountable, and to provide equitable access to safe, quality care closer to home.
It is through community engagement that we intend to further our efforts to fulfill that responsibility. Knowing that at some point, most people within our catchment areas will have contact with either Southlake or Stevenson, it is imperative that both Hospitals fully understand the needs of their growing communities. Providing safe, quality healthcare closer to home is our ultimate goal. Understanding the opinions of Our People and our communities and determining our shared priorities, will help both Southlake and Stevenson achieve this goal.
What is community engagement?
At Southlake and Stevenson, community engagement:
- is a proactive and ongoing process for planning and making decisions around the delivery of safe, equitable, quality healthcare services within and for the communities we serve;
- it encompasses a variety of activities that will build relationships with our communities to ensure the programs and services we offer today and tomorrow meet their needs;
- is about helping Southlake and Stevenson to exchange information with various communities about issues and concerns that may not be readily apparent; and
- it is about developing a respectful, two-way communication process.
Definition of “community”
For engagement purposes, Southlake and Stevenson define “community” as:
- our patients and other individuals who reside in the communities we serve;
- other healthcare service providers within our Hospitals’ service areas;
- our funders (e.g., Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Central LHIN, our donors, etc.); and
- Our People (i.e., staff, physicians, learners, and volunteers).
As such, Southlake and Stevenson will engage with representatives of these communities on an ongoing basis, especially when decisions about new or existing healthcare services are being considered by our Hospitals.
Definition of “engagement”
“Engagement” refers to a planned process to work with a “community” to achieve a defined goal that may range from simply informing that community, all the way up to engaging that community in final decision making.
Benefits and outcomes of community engagement
Conducting effective community engagement with our community stakeholders can help to:
When do Southlake and Stevenson engage with their communities?
Southlake and Stevenson are committed to engaging with appropriate community stakeholders when:
- an issue affects the introduction of new and/or the reduction of existing programs and/or services offered by Southlake or Stevenson;
- the decision has long-term, large-scale or otherwise significant social, environmental, health and/or economic impact for one or more stakeholder groups (e.g. access to service);
- an issue directly affects a significant group in the community;
- an issue significantly affects the rights and entitlements of community members;
- the change or issue is likely to directly affect quality of life;
- an issue directly and significantly affects the physical community environment;
- a significant number of people or groups are likely to have strong views on the issue;
- a legal or administrative trigger requires community involvement (e.g. budget cuts); and
- there is already, or will be, public media scrutiny over the issue.
In addition, the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 (LHSIA) sets out obligations for hospitals to undertake community engagement both as individual organizations and in partnership with other organizations including their Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). The LHSIA states, “Each health service provider shall engage the community of diverse persons and entities in the area where it provides health services when developing plans and setting priorities for the delivery of health services.”
As such, Southlake and Stevenson are expected to follow community engagement best practices for health service, system planning, and priority setting for all projects related to:
- voluntary integration;
- hospital capital projects; and
- service changes that affect service levels/volumes and other obligations in Hospital Service Accountability Agreements with the Central LHIN.
Southlake and Stevenson would like to acknowledge and thank the following organizations and sources for sharing content and/or providing guidance to us during the development of our Hospitals’ community engagement documentation:
Mackenzie Health (formerly York Central Hospital) – Richmond Hill, Ontario: Community Engagement Background and Plan, November, 2008 and Community Engagement Framework, May 2009.
Central Local Health Integration Network – Markham, Ontario: Community Engagement Strategy, A Process of Learning and Change Presentation, March 2009; LHIN Community Engagement Guidelines and Toolkit, February 2011; and Health Service Provider Community Engagement Guiding Principles and Checklist, October 2011.
Engaging People Improving Care (EPIC) website –supported by the Local Health Integration Network Collaborative (LHINC).