What is Community Engagement?
Community Engagement is an on-going relationship between citizens, health care providers and other community members and organizations. The World Health Organization defines Community Engagement as "a process by which people are enabled to become actively and genuinely involved in defining the issues of concern to them, in making decisions about factors that affect their lives, in formulating and implementing policies, in planning, developing and delivering services and in taking action to achieve change." (WHO1992, quoted in Fraser Health 2009).
Community Engagement becomes a part of the development of both the organization and the and the community and involves creating trust, building capacity, and working together.
A Framework for Community Engagement in Primary Health
The Gives and Gets of Community Engagement:
Value to Communities:
Value to Health Regions:
|Increased access – to decision-makers, to information, to others' opinions, to new processes for making decisions, to other parts of the community and the organization. |
Better information and understanding – improved understanding of the complexity of health care and greater opportunities to make informed input into a plan, a policy or a proposal.
Sense of involvement – the mutual sense of ownership for all parties is enhanced through shared responsibility. Ideally, this should result in increased capacity and sustainability of the efforts in communities.
Better outcomes – outcomes can be achieved that utilize existing resources and more fully reflect the aspirations of the client and the community.
An increased range of ideas – community contributions may surface ideas not apparent to service providers; avenues are opened for the community to raise issues incorporating local knowledge, resources, and expertise.
Credibility and accountability is increased for primary health with communities through dialogue and working together. There are also increased opportunities for explanation - a venue to give an account of the reasons for the organization's policies and actions.
Networks, relationships and processes are established in the local community that can benefit current and future projects.
A deeper understanding is developed around issues through public information sharing, discussion and deliberation.
Improve democratic outcomes, including the equity or fairness of a policy or project.
Better decisions are achieved that incorporate the communities' aspirations, have less duplication, and are sustainable.