Identifying and understanding stakeholders
Identifying and understanding the needs of stakeholders – and their potential interest in a topic or redesign of a service – is an essential part of effective communication and engagement.
These templates will help you to identify key stakeholders and consider how best to engage with them.
Who is a stakeholder?
A stakeholder is an individual, group or organisation who has an interest in a particular subject or matter. In this context, stakeholders are any individual or group of people who have an interest in health or social care services. They can be internal such as a sponsor, members of staff, managers, and clinicians or external such as patients, carers, members of the public, voluntary and community groups.
Not everyone will identify themselves as 'stakeholders' so organisations need to ensure they have fully considered everyone who may have an interest or be affected when identifying and planning engagement.
Equality impact assessment
The first step in the process for identifying stakeholders is to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA).
An EQIA considers the impact of a proposed change and makes sure that any potentially negative effects for stakeholders have been taken into account. Assessing the impacts of a proposed change to a service can help to identify the people who will be most affected and help to inform communication and engagement plans to support meaningful engagement.
We advise organisations to carry out an EQIA on the intended engagement process, including stakeholder mapping and the development of engagement plans. This should be done as early as possible to help identity people and groups who should be involved, as well as highlight any potential barriers or imbalance of power that may need to be considered.
Develop a list of individuals, groups and communities that may have an interest or be affected by the proposed changes.
This should include:
- patients and people who may be directly affected by change, including family members and carers
- groups or organisations who support people who may be affected
- health and social care staff who deliver services being considered for change
- managers of services being considered for change
- members of the local community who may not be affected directly but have an interest in potential changes
- elective representatives and government officials
It is good practice to involve people in this exercise – including members of the public – to ensure the list is inclusive and considers everyone who may have an interest.
Interest and influence
Conduct an analysis of the level of influence and interest the stakeholders you have identified may have in the potential change. This will help you prioritise and target resources as well as inform the details for your communication and engagement plan.
Motivations and challenges
Consider each stakeholder group on the list to help understand their potential motivation to engage. This will also identify any challenges or barriers that may need to be considered before communication and/or engagement can take place. Again it is good practice to involve others who may have experience or knowledge to inform your plans, help you identify any gaps and consider approaches to overcome challenges or barriers.
Stakeholder assessments and plans should be bespoke for each engagement process and should be reviewed and updated regularly. This ensures that they remain inclusive and consider any changes of impacts and needs as proposals develop.