Engaging Our Communities

We are pleased to announce the new South East LHIN Community Engagement (CE) Guidelines. CE is both a legislated responsibility and a core function of the LHINs. Local decision making is the model that the LHINs are built on, and one that values the input of community members, health care professionals, and stakeholders to inform our planning and decision making processes.

These guidelines complement the community engagement that the South East LHIN has already undertaken, and will further South East LHIN accountability and transparency.

For more information on how we engage with our community, please view the LHIN Community Engagement Guidelines & Toolkit.

Defining Community Engagement

Community engagement refers to the methods by which LHINs and HSPs interact, share and gather information from and with their stakeholders.  
The purpose of community engagement is to inform, educate, consult, involve, and empower stakeholders in both health care or health service planning and decision-making processes to improve the health care system.
Community engagement activities can be ongoing or project specific, outbound or inbound.
Definition of “Community”
Section 16.2 of LHSIA defines “Community” as patients and other individuals in the geographic area of the network, health service providers and any other person or entity that provides services in or for the local health system, as well as employees involved in the local health system.
Stakeholders are individuals, communities, political entities or organizations that have a vested interest in the outcomes of the initiative. They are either affected by, or can have an effect on, the project. Anyone whose interests may be positively or negatively impacted by the project, or anyone that may exert influence over the project or its results is considered a project stakeholder. All stakeholders must be identified and managed/involved appropriately.
Duty of Health Service Providers to Engage
Although LHINs are responsible for ensuring that they are adequately engaging their communities, the responsibility is also shared by the agencies funded by LHINs to provide health care services. The duty of Health Service Providers to consult is stated in LHSIA, requiring community engagement in the development of plans and setting priorities for the health services they provided. 2006, c. 4, s. 16 (6)”.

The Core Principles of South East LHIN Community Engagement

These seven recommendations reflect the common beliefs and understandings of those working in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and collaboration. 
  1. Careful Planning and Preparation
    Through adequate and inclusive planning, ensure that the design, organization, and convening of the process serve both a clearly defined purpose and the needs of the participants. 
  2. Inclusion and Demographic Diversity
    Equitably incorporate diverse people, voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
  3. Collaboration and Shared Purpose
    Support and encourage participants, government and community institutions, and others to work together to advance the common good.
  4. Openness and Learning
    Help all involved listen to each other, explore new ideas unconstrained by predetermined outcomes, learn and apply information in ways that generate new options, and rigorously evaluate public engagement activities for effectiveness.
  5. Transparency and Trust
    Be clear and open about the process, and provide a public record of the organizers, sponsors, outcomes, and range of views and ideas expressed.
  6. Impact and Action
    Ensure each participatory effort has real potential to make a difference, and that participants are aware of that potential.
  7. Sustained Engagement and Participatory Culture
    Promote a culture of participation with programs and institutions that support ongoing quality public engagement.

Performance Measurement Indicators for LHIN Community Engagement

The following is a set of indicators that each LHIN will report on annually through their annual report and on both ministry and LHIN websites. 
1 - An annual LHIN community engagement strategy or plan (i.e. a method or series of activities leading to a specific goal or result) consistent with the Annual Community Engagement Strategy Worksheet publicly available and reviewed on an annual basis.

  • The strategy document can stand alone or be combined with a LHIN’s annual communications plan document.
  • The strategy document is aligned with IHSP priorities.
  • The LHIN’s Annual Community Engagement Strategy document will be posted visibly on the LHIN’s website (i.e. linked from the home page). The LHIN will ensure the document is available to the public in alternate formats when requested in keeping with the LHIN’s Accessible Customer Service Policy.
  • An internal annual review process will be clearly defined and documented to allow for evaluation and future improvement of the strategy.
  • Performance against the plan will be reported in each LHIN’s Annual Report.
2 - The LHIN uses the community engagement guidelines to support project planning and decision making.
Related Issues:
  • The Guidelines for Community Engagement Toolkit, with attached templates are intended to provide LHINs with a consistent approach to community engagement for planning and documentation. 
3 - Participant evaluation must be integrated into every community engagement plan and inform future engagement planning.
Related Issues:
  • Participant evaluation of community engagement processes is defined as opportunities for participants to provide feedback on:
  • The appropriateness of the engagement technique (to the stated objectives of the session/meeting).
  • Participant satisfaction with the engagement technique, location, time frame etc.
  • And suggestions on how to improve any of the above.
  • Participant evaluation is intended to provide the LHIN with feedback on the chosen approach or process to community engagement.
  • Is the evaluation process documented and tracked to allow for improved future engagement activities? 
4 - Each LHIN will establish an evaluation committee including external reviewers to which it will submit its completed community engagement templates at least once within every three-year planning cycle. Existing committees that have non-LHIN representation can be leveraged for this purpose or an ad-hoc committee can be created exclusively for this purpose.
Related Issues:
  • The community engagement completed templates will be measured against the Guidelines for Community Engagement Toolkit documents provided and updated by the LHIN Community Engagement Network in consultation with the Ministry to ensure alignment and consistency with the guidelines, principles and best practices.
  • The size and makeup of the committee, while at the discretion of the LHIN, should reflect the unique diversity of the LHIN’s community and provide a balance of LHIN representatives and non-LHIN members. Non-LHIN members are people who are not employees or board members of the LHIN.
  • The committee can be ad-hoc (i.e. struck for this purpose alone on a time limited basis) or the LHIN may enlist the services of an existing committee where the requirements for diversity and balance will be met.
5 - The LHIN demonstrates how community engagement results have been tabled to LHIN decision-makers, including the Board for planning, funding and any decision-making process. Engagement can be rolled-up, where appropriate.
Related Issues:
  • LHINs will develop a feedback process to communicate results of community engagement activities to LHIN decision makers, including the Board.
  • The LHIN can support with documentation where and when community engagement results were communicated to decision makers.