Supporting people to access the health care they need to recover and stay well  

Working with Public Health Dorset to innovatively partner with five local voluntary and community group understand the barriers to people attending NHS appointments, and what can be done to address them.

A missed NHS appointments can have serious health implications and can even lead to premature death, so the NHS want to make sure people attend their appointments so they can recover and stay well. Missed appointments cost millions of pounds every year and increase waiting times when our NHS is already very stretched.

Local VCS groups best understand their community and people they serve and can provide support enabling people to recover and stay well.

Our health colleagues needed insights from the following:

  • Black people
  • Families with young children
  • People with poor mental health
  • Older people
  • People affected by poverty

We partnered with organisations to carry out a range of innovative, collaborative engagement activities with specific communities across Dorset:

Christchurch Community Partnership worked with the BU PIER (Public Involvement in Education & Research) Partnership using their community researcher model to upskill volunteers to enable them to facilitate and lead engagement activities with older people (many who have poor mental ill health and/or mobility issues).

CoCreate Dorset CIC worked with individuals with poor mental health through Forum Theatre, a structured performance method that encourages active problem-solving.

Home Start Wessex volunteers lead engagement activities with families with young children, including families affected by poverty.

Nigerian Communities in Dorset engaged with black people through focus groups and one-to-one engagement activities working with BU student volunteers.

Poole Communities Trust used creativity to stimulate conversation in Bourne, Branksome and Turlin Moor – working with a local illustrator to create a comic strip highlighting the barriers and challenges.

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Our work is possible thanks to our partner Public Health Dorset and funding from NHS Charities Together via Dorset County Hospital Charity in association with Dorset Community Foundation.