Written information supports many aspects of community engagement.
Information about current services and future needs is the first step to effective engagement in service change. Patients and their families also need trustworthy and accessible information about an individual's condition and care.
- Time to do: can take a long time to write, edit, design, print and distribute
- Staff: writers, editors, designers and printers
- Cost: ££ to £££
- Equipment: any word processing software can be used for drafting, but specialist design sotware may be needed - especially for materials that will be printed
- small groups
- large groups
- at a distance
How to do it
- Have a clear purpose for the information. What is it intended to achieve and who is it for? In general, keep information as simple as possible with no acronyms, jargon or long sentences.
- Consider the best format to reach the target group: leaflets, posters, websites, large print, audiovisual. Would it be better to use a range of formats?
- Develop materials with input from service users from the earliest stage. Service users can help with testing for readability, legibility, literacy and possibly also suggest the best format and ways to distribute.
- Consider how your material can most effectively reach its intended readers. Possibilities include mailshots, door-to-door distribution, noticeboards and working with other organisations such as community groups, or with schools for 'schoolbag drops'.
- Ensure plenty of time for testing and checking. Proofreading is your responsibility, not the printer's. It can be costly to correct mistakes once large quantities of material have been printed.
- Familiarise yourself with any guidelines or requirements.
- Consider the accessibility requirements of your target audience. There are many ways of conveying information that do not depend on written English, including Easy Read, infographics and video.
- Design material so that it is easy for the reader to skim for basic information and then return later for more detail. Use headings, bullet points and graphics to summarise information and to break up solid text.
- A widespread and widely understood form of communication.
- Service users can help to create and test information before it is shared.
- Written materials can create barriers, including for people with lower levels of literacy, who use languages other than English, who have learning difficulties or disabilities or visual impairments. You need to consider how to overcome specific barriers within your target communities.
- Materials must be high quality otherwise their credibility is reduced.
- Can be costly to produce and difficult to update – references can date quickly and it is expensive to get information translated into different languages and formats.