Health and Wellbeing Boards Culture and Governance Conference – Transition Alliance

What the client wanted

The client is the Transition Alliance, a short life alliance of stakeholders across health, local government and the voluntary sector in the North West. Its purpose is to facilitate collaboration and mutual support for the transition tasks arising from the health and social care reforms.

One of the key objectives of the reforms is the creation of Health and Wellbeing Boards (HAWB) in each of the 23 upper tier local authorities across the region. The HAWBs will operate on a statutory basis from April 2013; and their role will be to bring together local commissioners across the NHS, public health and social care, elected representatives, and representatives of HealthWatch to secure better health and wellbeing outcomes of the people in their area.

The Culture and Governance conference was a key event for the Transition Alliance in supporting the emerging shadow HAWBs. 150 senior people from across the region attended the conference, including Councillors, Directors of Children’s Services, Directors of Adult Services, Clinical Commissioning Group Leads, Directors of Public Health and Health Watch representatives.

Impromptu’s role was to design and deliver a one and a half hour interactive session to explore the cultural challenges in establishing HAWBs and to help the attendees to develop effective approaches to the formation of successful and productive partnerships.

What we did

The design involved a considerable amount of research into the potential issues faced by the emergent HAWBs, looking closely at the existing cultural traditions that inform the positions of the members of the boards;

The delivery of the session at the event – facilitated by an Impromptu facilitator – used a range of forum theatre techniques to provide an engaging and thought provoking session. The first section involved five role players representing a realistic HAWB in a meeting to discuss and agree a Health and Wellbeing Strategy for a fictional local authority, focusing specifically on a strategic response to an alcohol issue in the locality. The design, planning, rehearsal and execution of this ‘meeting’ was critical to the success of the session as the role players had to be credible in representing board members in front of an exacting, senior and experienced audience who are actually in the roles being represented.

Subsequent to the ‘meeting’, the audience had an opportunity to engage with the role players/characters in various ways to comment on, explore and influence changes in the attitude and behaviour of the participants to effect an improvement in the cultural/behavioural functionality of the board. A segment of the meeting was then re-run to demonstrate the positive impact of the recommended changes.

The outcomes

Responses to the session were very positive. Oral reactions on the day indicated that attendees had found the session impactful, realistic, relevant, thought provoking and helpful and this was endorsed by quantitative feedback which indicated that the overwhelming majority of attendees had found the session very useful.

It has been a pleasure to work with the Transition Alliance on this project and to engage with an event that will make some contribution to the ongoing improvement of health and wellbeing of our communities.

Bernadette Hurst (Programme Manager, Transition Alliance and Strategic Lead, Health & Wellbeing Boards & Commissioning Development) comments ~

“The success of Health and Wellbeing Boards depends on successful partnerships with mutual trust and commitment. We wanted to find an innovative and engaging way to help stakeholders start to tackle the difficult issues around behaviours and culture. Impromptu successfully helped us to do that in a thought-provoking, inter-active but non-threatening session which was extremely well received by delegates”