Citizen Engagement

About work area

Citizen engagement is a cross-cutting activity which impacts on all areas of our work. We are keen to understand where and how to focus efforts to optimise citizen engagement relating to the development and delivery of Digital Health and Care Solutions in Scotland.

In 2021, we committed to taking forward a specific programme to support citizen engagement, in partnership with The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) to form a Digital Panel.  The programme is focused on developing a solid understanding of the benefits and barriers in the development and delivery of digital tools and services, especially as they scale up.

We will continue to engage with other stakeholders, including health and care professionals, Third Sector organisations, public sector organisations, innovation, and research as well as other relevant stakeholders on developments undertaken by the Digital Health and Care Division and our partners across health, care, and housing.

What the area does

Our citizen engagement is underpinned by ten core principles which are based on best practice, and include those adopted in the The Scottish Approach to Service Design (SAtSD) as well as our own collective experiences. We recognise that there are numerous approaches and methodologies that can be used to carry out engagement activities. Our chosen methodology for each programme of work is dependent on the specific needs of the audience as well as the level of engagement required, but often we utilise a blended approach.

Core principles to support best practice

  1. Championing engagement is a core part of leadership.
  2. Explore and define the problem before designing solutions. This needs to happen as early as possible and in partnership with stakeholders.
  3. It must be meaningful for all involved. To meet expectations, the approach should be agreed from the start.
  4. The terms of the engagement must be transparent to all including how any findings will impact on decisions and outcomes (feed-back loop).
  5. Engagement must be a two-way and continuous process that is active and responsive.
  6. Tailoring methods to meet the needs, interests, circumstances, and commitments is essential.
  7. Communication and engagement approaches must be clear, accessible, and inclusive.
  8. Use facilitators with relevant competencies able to lead and manage an engaging process, including cultural considerations.
  9. Use independent expertise where necessary and appropriate.
  10. Evaluate the impact of the engagement and feedback.

Examples of work done

Near Me video consulting

A national public engagement exercise was held during June to August 2020, to understand the general public and health professionals’ views on using Near Me video consulting. Over 5,000 people responded to the public engagement and consistent themes emerged across all types of feedback received. The engagement exercise comprised significant awareness raising using social, local and national media. In addition, individual stakeholder engagement took place with both public and health professional groups: over 300 organisations were contacted. Although the vast majority of feedback was received via online surveys, the range of activities to engage other views by telephone and hard copy was a key approach. Video consultations – public and clinician views: consultation report.

Data Dialogues Nesta

In 2019, Nesta and the Scottish Government embarked on a dialogue with Scottish citizens to understand their opinions and ideas for the use and sharing of health and care data, now and in the future, and to explore possible future uses that improve outcomes for everyone.

The goals of the Data Dialogues project were to:

  • Better understand the views, opinions and ideas of Scottish citizens around the use and sharing of health and social care data – now and in the future.
  • Explore and co-design possible ways health and social care data could be used in future to benefit everyone.
  • Test and evaluate innovative methods of engaging and involving the public in conversations about their data.

Nesta worked with four partnerships to conduct the dialogues with Scottish citizens.

Using a range of participatory futures methods – including immersive experiences, online social games and speculative design – the partners engaged with diverse groups from different places, ages, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, as well as people with different health conditions and experiences of health and care services.

The majority of this work was conducted during 2020 and, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the four organisations had to adapt their original plans to accommodate lockdown restrictions and social distancing. A fifth partner was unable to adapt their project to the Covid-19 restrictions and withdrew from the programme.

Findings from the four projects were synthesised and expressed as seven relationships that Scottish citizens have with health and social care data.

The data relationships includes both the way that a person shares and benefits from data, as well as their attitudes, understanding and beliefs around data sharing. You can access details about these seven relationships here: Data Dialogues.

You can also access the Participatory Public Engagement report here: Participatory Public Engagement report.

Further research was undertaken in late 2021 and early 2022 to understand the views of people in Scotland whose voices are often less heard, on accessing, sharing and controlling their own health and care data. You can access the report here: Data Dialogues 2 report.

Our work

The Digital Health and Care Division is involved in a wide range of work across health.

Our Strategy

Scotland’s refreshed Digital Health and Care Strategy was launched on 27 October 2021. A joint initiative between the Scottish Government and COSLA, it outlines approaches to improve the care and wellbeing of people in Scotland.