Transformation Partners in Health and Care > News > Helping you get the most out of your stakeholder engagement

Learn how TPHC’s specialists are guiding our customers through tailored stakeholder engagement, helping them to reach the stakeholders they need to hear and learn from.

By Fiona Gaylor and Rebecca Weekes

Stakeholder engagement can sometimes feel like a big word for something everyone does everyday – asking for people’s views and input to help improve things – whether that be services, processes, ways of working or something else. It’s about having conversations to collect information that helps inform your decisions and when it comes to strategic planning, stakeholder engagement is critical. Whilst we’re all familiar in the NHS with the legal duty to engage our stakeholders, having the time, resources and the right skills to do an effective job can be a challenge.

As simple as it sounds, stakeholder engagement includes a number of important phases, such as:

Three professionals working together at a desk.
  • stakeholder mapping
  • relationship management
  • planning and scoping
  • question design
  • participant recruitment and support
  • engagement, analysis and evaluation.

Our experience has taught us that to get the best out of your stakeholder engagement work, you either need dedicated resource or to upskill your own staff to feel confident to do this for themselves.

Some of the most common issues we’ve found whilst undertaking stakeholder engagement for our customers include:

  • not being clear about the information you need to know
  • not making information clear for potential participants so they can give informed feedback
  • not having ways to reach the stakeholders you’ve identified – for example, underrepresented groups, staff, professional bodies etc. 
  • the team not having the right skills to engage with stakeholders they’ve identified
  • not fully understanding all of the stakeholders that need to be involved or who may have an interest in being involved.

So, how do we combat these and other issues during stakeholder engagement?

Our communications and engagement team have a track record of leading a broad range of successful stakeholder engagement projects, as well as training other staff to develop the skills themselves. We scale the work we do to fit the situation whether it be a large service change, or a targeted piece of engagement. Leading stakeholder engagement work from start to finish, we draw on our wider specialists in data analysis and project management to provide a holistic service.

Crucially, our approach is responsive and tailored. We monitor, iterate and test our engagement process with stakeholders to get the desired result. Recently supporting a large scale reconfiguration process, we recognised we were hearing less from some of our underrepresented stakeholders and parents. Taking feedback on board, we changed our participant recruitment strategy to vary our engagement methods and partner with voluntary organisations to reach these groups, helping us to achieve a statistically significant sample. 

Our team have experience of creating information for a diverse range of stakeholders (from easy read and plain English documents to animations and creative mood boards) as well as engaging directly with more niche stakeholders, such as those with mental health challenges, armed forces personnel, children and young people, people with autism and/or learning disabilities and ethnic minority communities.

Coordinating tailored activities such as play sessions to engage and build rapport with children.

We routinely commission and partner with external organisations to deliver tailored engagement, for example play sessions for younger children, to help develop a plan that most effectively reaches the stakeholders we need to hear and learn from.

When you ask the right people the right questions at the right time, the insights collected should have a significant impact – no matter the size of the project. Otherwise, what are we doing it all for? Our past stakeholder engagement work has supported decisions about changing the location of health services, creating new services, service improvement and establishing new campaigns to change behaviours.