Communications Strategy (Draft)

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1 Communications Strategy (Draft) January 2011 March

2 C O N T E N T S 1 Introduction 2 Vision, Values and Strategic Aims 3 Scope 4 Communications Principles 5 Branding and Corporate Identity 6 External Communications and Stakeholder Relations 7 Internal Communications 8 Roles and Responsibilities 9 Outcomes and Benefits of Effective Communications 10 Review 11 Contacts 12 Implementation Plan April 2011 to December

3 1 Introduction Communication is central to every organisation. When used effectively it supports the creation of a positive working environment, cements working relationships with internal and external stakeholders and sets the tone for the entire organisation. Good communication is more than a simple exchange of information and messages: it must involve attitude and behaviour too. Every member of Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has a role and responsibility to support effective communications this can range from liaising with teams within the Trust and answering the telephone, to talking to a service user about their care and offering guidance to carers. An environment of trust and openness is crucial to achieve effective, robust communications. Communications is the responsibility of all staff, but managers will need to take the lead in developing and maintaining such an environment. This Strategy covers the period when the Trust will be seeking to become a Foundation Trust (FT) April Communications will be as important as ever both during and after our bid for FT status as we look to engage our stakeholders in our vision and goals for the future of mental health provision in Dudley and Walsall. Aside from the FT application, the Trust is also working in a very different health and social care environment, one which is increasingly competitive. Commissioners are afforded greater flexibility in terms of whose services they purchase on behalf of the people of Dudley and Walsall, with diverse providers now operating in the health and social care arena. In order for the Trust to compete, this Strategy sets out the principles and tactics required to positively promote its services to its stakeholders service users and carers, staff, PCT and Council commissioners and subsequently GPs in line with the Liberating the NHS White Paper The Trust has adopted the Better Together message since its formation in October This Strategy details how communicating better together will create a positive internal culture alongside a strong brand and enviable external reputation. 2 Scope The scope for this strategy includes: External Communications and Stakeholder Relations (eg media relations, patient information, partnerships, reputation management) Internal Communications (eg all areas of informing and involving staff) This Strategy should be read in conjunction with the following strategies: Service User and Carer Involvement Strategy FT Membership Strategy (currently in draft form) FT Communications Strategy (currently in draft form) Staff Health and Wellbeing Strategy 3

4 3 Vision, Values & Strategic Objectives This Communications Strategy will run in parallel to the Clinical and Social Care Vision and the Annual Business Plan to ensure that it supports the Trust s overarching Vision and Strategic Aims. The Vision: Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust aims to deliver flexible, high quality, evidence based services to enable people to achieve recovery. Strategic Objectives: To be truly Better Together through the delivery of high quality, evidence based services, which are focused on the needs of the service user and meet regulatory requirements To embed a leadership culture at all levels throughout the organisation to develop, empower and motivate a high performing, visionary and dedicated workforce To develop an integrated suite of clear, innovative, and commercially focused strategies to deliver and support high quality mental health services To develop creative and inclusive partnerships with stakeholders for the benefit of service users, embedding joint working and adding value to service provision To develop a commercial and business orientated ethos within the Trust, to ensure the efficient use of resources To ensure that the workforce is appropriately skilled and engender a working environment in which personal responsibility and pride in the development of services is paramount It is important that the Communications Strategy reflects the values of the Trust and are embedded in the way we communicate with all our stakeholders. Values: Respect and Dignity Commitment to Quality of Care Compassion Improving Lives Working Together for Patients Everyone Counts 4 COMMUNICATIONS PRINCIPLES The Trust s communications strategy will adhere to the following set of principles: Open Decision-makers are accessible and ready to engage in dialogue. When information cannot be given or is unavailable, the reasons are explained. 4

5 Consistent There are no contradictions in the messages given to different stakeholder groups or individuals. The priority to those messages and the degree of detail may differ, but they should never conflict. Corporate Two-way Timely Clear Accessible Targeted Credible Planned Efficient The messages communicated are consistent with the aims and values of the organisation and the NHS as a whole. There are opportunities for open and honest feedback, and people have the chance to contribute their ideas and opinions about issues and decisions. Information arrives at a time when it is needed, relevant to the people receiving it and able to be interpreted in the correct context. Communication should be in jargon-free, easy to understand and not open to interpretation. Ensure communications are available in a range of formats to meet the needs of people from diverse backgrounds including ethnic minorities and those with hearing or visual difficulties. The right messages reach the right audiences at the right time and using the most appropriate methods available. Messages have real meaning; recipients can trust their content and expect to be advised of any change in circumstances which impact on those messages. Communications are planned rather than ad-hoc, and are regularly reviewed and contributed to by senior management and staff (as appropriate). Tactics should be proactive where possible. Communications and the way they are delivered are fit for purpose cost-effective, within budget and delivered on time. 5 Branding and Corporate Identity In June 2010, the Trust adopted a new branding which encompasses the Better Together message and a styling that reflected the organisation s vision and values. This design option was chosen following consultation with stakeholders and a focussed Service User and Carer workshop. Stakeholders recognised that the branding was reflective of the Trust in the following ways: Better Together our staff working with service user and carers Better Together our Trust working with a range of partners for the benefit of service users and carers Better Together our services working together to achieve positive patient experience 5

6 Mental Health the cogs design is reflective of the mind working Black Country the cogs represent the industrial heritage of the region Bright Future The colouring is tranquil and promotes a brighter future for our service users In addition to the Trust branding, the Trust will also abide by the principles of the NHS Corporate Identity laid down by the Department of Health The Trust branding should be utilised on all material being used for external purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, letterheads, posters, leaflets and presentations. Internally, the branding should be used on all administration material such as meeting agendas, posters, staff leaflets, bulletins, memos and presentations. The Trust s Communications Team has, and will continue to, provide advice to staff on branding and corporate identity. It is important that the branding is used at every opportunity to support its development both internally and externally. This co-ordinated, improved external image will enhance the Trust s association with Better Together and lead to the benefits of good branding including loyalty, familiarity, public confidence and increased awareness. 6 External Communications and Stakeholder Relations A key communications priority for the coming two years is to raise the Trust s profile among a range of stakeholders. The target of enhancing the Trust s reputation among its stakeholders is one which all staff should aim to achieve. This includes frontline staff communicating positively with service users to Executive Directors profiling the Trust at conferences and events. Our stakeholders are categorised as the key influencers. Communication with these organisations/groups will generally be structured and detailed in the Implementation Plan Year One (see Section 9). However, it is important to recognise that there will be a number of ad hoc contacts which the Communications Team will manage on a case-by-case basis to ensure maximum benefit for the Trust. Below is a table detailing the many of the Trust s external stakeholders: Service Users Carers Service User Support Groups Carer Support Groups NHS Dudley (Primary Care Trust) NHS Walsall (Primary Care Trust) Dudley Council Walsall Council Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust NHS West Midlands Care Quality Commission General public Media local, regional and national MPs Councillors Monitor NHS Litigation Authority Potential employees Voluntary Organisations/Charities GPs Other mental health trusts Potential commissioners Private sector 6

7 A detailed programme of actions to enhance external communications will be detailed in the Communications Implementation. However, there are a number of areas which are critical to the success of good external communications and the arrangements for these are listed below: Media Relations We recognise that the media is one of the most powerful conduits to communicating with the public - locally, regionally and nationally. The local media are our partners in the community and so will endeavour to keep them informed of our activities and day-to-day services. The Communications Team is committed to building strong links with the media and will require the support of all staff, particularly senior managers, in providing journalists with information. The Communications Team will always respond to the media s enquiries within their deadline even if that is to explain why we are unable to give a full answer to their enquiry. All requests and responses to the media will be conducted through the Trust s Communications Team. Out of hours, the Director-on-Call will contact the Head of Corporate Affairs or Communications and Experience Manager should a crisis communications issue arise. Website More people than ever are using the online world as a method of communicating and it is crucial that the Trust refreshes its website to a high standard. A programme to develop the website will begin in February 2011 (see Implementation Plan) with the expectation that it will be hosted on a new platform, allowing a network of editors across the Trust to create content for the site. This editorial plan will be developed in line with the overall refreshment of the website. Currently, the Communications Team has overall responsibility for the editorial and styling of the website, whilst the Web Development Team has overall technical responsibility for the website. Patient and public information (leaflets, brochures, posters etc) We will continue to develop high quality information literature for the public, service users and carers and commissioners, wherever there is an identified need, such as a gap in the information we currently provide. This will be developed in line with the Trust s toolkit for producing patient information, which will is currently being developed. All literature requires service user and carer input through the Trust s Service User and Carer Reference Group. Service Team Managers will be responsible for identifying the need for written information within their area, and the Communications Team will co-ordinate its production. Wherever possible, services should seek to maximise resources by producing publications that may be used Trust-wide. 7

8 The Communications Team will also conduct audits across the Trust to give an overarching perspective on the quality of patient information. Attendance at external events/meetings The Communications Team will identify opportunities for the Trust to be involved in external activities. The level of participation will vary from simply attending a workshop to presenting at a national conference. It is vital that all Executive Directors and Senior Managers embrace the opportunity to take part in these events. The Communications and the relevant Executive Director should be made aware of all external apperances. Staff as ambassadors Staff will be recognised and developed as ambassadors of the Trust in all their contacts with stakeholders both formal and informal. Opportunities to promote the Trust in an external arena should be accepted whenever possible and the Communications Team will offer support and guidance. Governor and Membership Communications On achieving FT status, good communication will be vital in enabling members to contribute effectively. For membership to thrive, it will be important to maintain a continual two -way dialogue, both formal and informal. The Trust will produce appropriate written communications for members, based on successful past practice. These will be timely, relevant and available to all. Freedom of Information (FOI) requests All staff have a responsibility to ensure the Trust responds to Freedom of Information requests within the legal timeframe (20 days). Freedom of Information requests are handled by the Communications Team, reporting to the Head of Corporate Affairs. The Trust s policy on handling FOI requests is currently being developed and will provide further details. Other external communications The principles of good communications will be adhered to in all PR material and activity. The Communications Team will support staff in developing materials and presentations to ensure they adhere to the core standards of presentation and branding, content, confidentiality and accuracy. 7 Internal Communications Everyone working in the Trust, either as a direct employee, contractor or volunteer, has a responsibility for ensuring the success of the Communications Strategy. Each member of staff is a stakeholder of this Strategy and will rightly expect two-way communication up and down the Trust. Staff are the Trust s greatest ambassadors as well as being members of the public so it is important that they are made aware of their duty to communicate and that senior managers take onboard feedback from colleagues. Effective communication must be at the heart of the Trust and is a key task for everyone, particularly those with the responsibility for supervising and managing staff and those with direct service user contact. 8

9 In order to develop communications, the Trust will promote a culture that: Is open, transparent and clear Encourages staff to suggest new ways of working Supports constructive feedback A range of internal communications methods will be utilised to ensure staff receive information in accordance with the Trust s Communications Principles (see Section 4). Full details of methods can be found in the Implementation Plan Year One (see Section 9) In addition to having responsibility for the dissemination of all corporate messages, the Communications Team will work together with other Trust directorates to ensure there is a streamlined, consistent and integrated approach to all staff communications. All communications to staff, with the exception of Training Information, should be approved and issued by the Communications Team. 8 Roles and Responsibilites Communications is everyone s business. This is an ethos that the Trust must adopt in order to realise the benefits of good communications both internally and externally. It is recognised however, that certain staff groups will have differing roles and responsibilities in supporting and delivering elements of this Communication Strategy. This can range from promoting and practising good communication internally as well as assisting in building the profile of the Trust externally. Below is a list of roles and responsibilities of staff groups which, if adopted, will have a positive impact for the Trust. These are not exhaustive and all actions to promote good communication are encouraged. The Communications Team: Responsible for facilitating the delivery of the Implementation Plan. Take lead responsibility for facilitating and promoting good internal and external communications, as well as providing professional advice and support to the Board Be ambassadors of the Trust will all stakeholders (ie service users and carers, professional partners, etc) Create and manage a range of internal and external communications techniques and identify opportunities to build the Trust s profile Support staff in practising effective communication for a range of target audiences including service users and carers Executive and Associate Directors Work with the Communications Team to agree messages and the methods of appropriate communication both internal and external audiences 9

10 Ensure all information, as far as possible, is communicated internally before externally Ensure that management behaviour and style is consistent with the principles in the Communications Strategy Respond positively to requests to profile the Trust at events such as conferences through presentations or representation Represent the Trust at external meetings such as the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Local Involvement Networks (LINks) Assist in the timely delivery of all important issues to staff in the organisation Work in partnership with staff and their representatives, to ensure the Communications Strategy works Non-Executive Directors Act as ambassadors for the Trust to key external stakeholders Champion the Communications Strategy within the areas that they are Non- Executive Lead Where they are committee members, identify issues raised in meetings that require communication to a wider audience Professional Leads Act as a communications representative for the respective professional groups Facilitate the promotion of professional group activities Take responsibility for communicating key messages to respective professional groups Drive the communication of professional group projects, with the support of the Communications Team Heads of Service, Team Managers and Clinical Leads Ensure regular and timely communication with service users, carers and staff within their department/service Aim to communicate service changes/developments to service users, carers and staff at the earliest opportunity Hold regular staff team meetings to communicate key messages Identify good news stories for internal and external use and/or issues that could damage the Trust s reputation and report them to the Communications Team Ensure staffs views are considered, and responses given where appropriate To identify potential blocks to communication within the service or with partner agencies and aim to remedy them Investigate conflicting information and to stop false rumours circulating To take responsibility for delivering information, and obtaining the views of service users and staff, in a consistent manner. To ensure personal development for themselves and their staff in communication skills Represent the Trust at partner agency meetings 10

11 Staff Representatives All Staff To ensure that the information sent to them is communicated to their members To feedback the views of staff through formal meetings and informal mechanisms To clarify conflicting information and messages with the Director of HR and to attempt to stop false rumours circulating To work with managers in ensuring that the Communications Strategy is working, and to work with the Communications Team to address any issues To communicate appropriately with service users and carers Notify the Communications Team of any communications issues raised by service users, carers and the general public To act as ambassadors for the Trust to create a positive external reputation To keep themselves informed of initiatives, trends and key issues relating to the Trust and wider NHS using the various methods of communication offered by the Communications Team To clarify any areas of misunderstanding with their line manager To seek and ask for information, particularly from their line manager To respond to requests for information and ideas 9 Outcomes and Benefits of Effective Communications An effective Communications Strategy will lead to numerous positive outcomes for the Trust both internally and externally. Below are examples of these: External Positive stakeholder recognition Enhanced external profile (linked to Deloitte s Board feedback, March 2010) Strong partnership relations Consistent positive presence in the media Increased opportunities to showcase the Trust on regional and national platforms Internal Improved morale of colleagues Increase in efficiency due to good communications between teams Promotion of healthy working relationships Each Implementation Plan will detail a set of hard outcomes linked to each activity in order to measure success. These will include (but not limited to) media coverage, representation of the Trust at external forums, mentions in partnership newsletters, number of engagement opportunities for colleagues and NHS Staff Survey metrics. 11

12 11 Communications Team Contacts The Communications Team can be contacted by: Telephone: Mobile/Text: Implementation Plan Since the formation of the Trust, the Communications Team has managed, facilitated and co-ordinated a range of activities to support the Strategic Aims and Annual Objectives. All tactics have been structured in short-term, three-month activity plans to ensure that the team s outcomes supported the Trust s fast-moving direction of travel. Once the Trust s Annual Objectives have been set for 2011/12, the Communications Team will develop quarterly Implementation Plans, starting in April 2011, to support the delivery of these aims. 10 Review The Implementation Plans described above will be reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis and outcomes will be formally reported to the Management Executive Team (MExT) on a quarterly basis or as required. The outcomes of Year One of this Strategy will be formally reported to Trust Board in March 2012 or as required. 12

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