How you can get involved
There are a number of ways you can get involved and help shape health and care services in your local community.
Somerset NHS Citizens’ Panel
Our Citizens’ Panel, launched in 2020, is an opportunity for people across the county to help ensure that the voice of the local population is heard and influences developments. Some of the activities a member may be involved in include; filling in a survey, attending a focus group (in person or online), or giving feedback on proposed changes to healthcare.
By joining, you can help us to provide better quality care in a way that matters the most to local residents, have your views heard by local health and care decision makers and find out about new plans and ideas for Somerset.
Become a People Champion
A People Champion is a patient or member of the public who volunteers to work with us on projects. They bring their lived experience, skills, and knowledge, championing the public voice in the planning, development and commissioning of health services.
Sign up to our Engagement Bulletin
Our weekly engagement bulletin will keep you updated about any changes or development to NHS services in Somerset as well as promoting opportunities to get involved.
Join a group
There are various engagement groups and committees that support commissioning locally, link on the title to see how members of the public can become involved.
- Somerset Engagement Advisory Group (SEAG) monitor and provide assurance on the engagement work we do. This is to ensure that our engagement informs commissioning decisions about how we organise local health services, making recommendations to the CCG Governing Body and monitoring our engagement plan.
- Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) are based in GP surgeries throughout the county and made up of patients and practice staff. They meet regularly and act as “critical friends” to their respective surgery, looking at how the surgery currently works, setting objectives for the coming year and agreeing how they can help to achieve those objectives.
- Healthwatch Somerset is the county’s independent health and care champion. They listen to what people like about local health services, and what could be improved. These views are then shared with the decision-making organisations like ourselves, so together a real difference can be made. You can share your views with Healthwatch, ask for information, or become a volunteer.
- Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership work to make sure that the voices of people who have used or are using the maternity services in Somerset are heard by ourselves and the providers we commission.
- Somerset Parent Carer Forum makes sure parent carers have a strong voice in improving the lives of families, children and young people with disabilities. They share concerns and issues with relevant key policymakers and service providers. They work alongside ourselves and Somerset County Council to have a better understanding of SEND needs in Somerset, attending meetings, forums and workshops to make sure parent carers’ voices and children’s needs are being heard at all levels within health, education and social care services.
- Carers’ Voice Somerset is an influencing body concerned with improving the lives of carers in Somerset. It is made up of representatives of organisations and agencies which have a stake in supporting carers in the county. Carers’ Voice Somerset brings together carers, former carers, local providers, ourselves and Somerset County Council commissioners to advise and make recommendations on the joint development of health, social care and related services.
Why you should get involved
We aim to put the public voice at the heart of all that we do. We want to make sure the views of the people who live and work in Somerset are listened to and that their feedback directly contributes to our work in setting health priorities and shaping health services in Somerset.
We offer a range of ways to get involved with the work we do and this can be seen in our approach to public involvement. By getting involved, you can help us to improve the healthcare services that you use.
Our annual engagement reports show how we involved people, patients, carers, stakeholders, and the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) throughout the year. The annual engagement reports describes our approach to patient and public engagement and provides a summary of how engagement has informed our commissioning activity over the last year.
Support to take part
We are committed to making our engagement activities and opportunities as accessible as possible. We are keen to make sure that people with differing needs can take part in our engagement activities. For example, we always use wheelchair accessible venues, we access language and BSL interpreters as required and have a portable hearing loop for engagement events and meetings. We also fund the travel expenses of People Champions invited to be involved in commissioning activities.
We offer a variety of training sessions to support our public involvement and engagement work.
Understanding NHS terms and jargon
The NHS uses lots of jargon and new acronyms come into use all the time. Sometimes our People Champions, patients and the public tell us that it is difficult to understand what is being discussed when they meet with NHS staff. We know that in meetings staff sometimes slip into using jargon without realising it, which can make it difficult for our People Champions or members of the public to speak up and ask what the jargon means.
We encourage our staff not to use jargon but we have produced a jargon directory to help and support our People Champions to understand these terms if they come across them in meetings or during their healthcare journey.
Paper copies of the jargon directory are made available to all our People Champions on request. If you come across new jargon which is not in the directory – please let us know and we will make sure we update the directory. If you find new jargon or would like a paper copy of the directory, please contact the Engagement Team on 01935 384022 or email email@example.com.