Improving Access to Care through enhanced community engagement

Annual Community Engagement Plans will support input from local communities and ensure greater transparency and accountability 

In an effort to ensure greater transparency and accountability, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) will be posting Annual Community Engagement (CE) Plans on their websites at the end of April as new LHIN Community Engagement Guidelines are implemented across the province.

These annual plans are designed to outline local LHIN community engagement initiatives for the coming year, describing how local stakeholders will be informed about upcoming community engagement activities and how they can provide input into the work of their local LHIN.

By developing provincial guidelines, all 14 LHINs now have a consistent approach to community engagement planning and will be better able to show how feedback gathered through community engagement activities is considered as part of each LHIN’s decision making process. The posting of the annual community engagement plans is just one element of the provincial Community Engagement Guidelines that will ensure greater transparency and accountability by the LHINs.

Since their inception in 2005, LHINs have been working closely with residents and local health service providers to identify and plan for local health needs by implementing services and programs.

In the Central East LHIN, the latest Integrated Health Service Plan, which guides the activities and accountabilities of local health service providers, included a telephone survey of over one thousand households to assess the public’s confidence in the local health care system. The overwhelming response was the need to address emergency department wait times and chronic diseases such as diabetes and stroke.

Community engagement, led by the Central East LHIN, has also resulted in stronger partnerships between health service providers who are working together to improve access to quality care for the residents of the Central East LHIN.

Current examples of these partnerships include the rollout of the “Home First” program in all Central East LHIN hospitals being managed by the Central East Community Care Access Centre and the introduction of new “Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network – GAIN” clinics that provide care for seniors outside an emergency department setting.

“Listening to and working with our partners is the foundation to everything we do at the Central East LHIN and ensures that we are responsive to local health needs,” said Foster Loucks, Chair, Central East LHIN Board of Directors. “The partnerships we established back in 2005, and the new partnerships that we have developed since then, have provided invaluable advice to the board in guiding our local decision making.”