Why you should get involved in health and care

Why you should get involved in health and care

We believe that every opinion and experience that people share is valuable and helps health and social care providers to design, change and improve services to meet the needs of the people of Scotland. 

People and communities should have opportunities and support to use their skills and experience to design and improve the health and care services that matter to them. They should have the chance to work together with the organisations that provide those services. For some people this may seem daunting, but we run informal and relaxed training sessions that can help.

Our local presence and national reach enables us to work in a variety of ways, gathering evidence and best practice from across Scotland. It also allows us to collaborate with a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations.

There are many ways you can make a difference and get involved, either workign with us or with your local NHS board. By giving your time either regularly or occasionally and sharing your experiences and opinions you can make your voice count. Get involved today.

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that one person can make a difference, but you can. Not only have health and social care services a legal responsibility to involve people in the design and improvement of services, but by getting involved you can make a difference.

Maternity Services Liaison Committees (MSLCs) were set up in 2000 as a recommendation of the Maternity Services Standards and include people who work in maternity services as well as people from the local communities that have used them. The Scottish Government asked us to gather the views of staff and public involved in Maternity Services Liaison Committees with a view to ensuring that people who use maternity services have:

  • a voice at both a local and national level
  • good mechanisms to ensure they are aware of how to engage at local level, and
  • local engagement mechanisms that can lead to national engagement approaches.

Conducting discovery interviews across Scotland's territorial NHS boards, our staff gathered people's experiences and opinions. The information gathered was reported to Scottish Government. Some of the key themes that emerged included:

  • Recruitment and retention are a challenge. There is frequently a lack of diversity in the group.
  • People need clear aims and purpose, and to see evidence of actions taken.
  • A less formal and more welcoming environment would encourage more people to take part.
  • People who potentially would be interested in the work of Maternity Services Liaison Committees face many barriers - including lack of childcare, travel and time pressures - which make it difficult to commit.

Following the report, the Scottish Government will be looking to develop a national network that facilitates the sharing of learning, good practice and the development of ideas and approaches to link at a local and national level.

We have already seen a change locally with some NHS boards looking to establish a network that is less formal and more flexible to the needs of local people.

In January 2019, SIGN published a guideline on children and young people exposed prenatally to alcohol (SIGN 156). SIGN explored the experiences of parents and kinship carers by running focus groups to identify key issues to help inform the guideline.

A young person living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) helped to raise awareness of the new clinical guideline with a range of professionals. This young person and their family also supported the development of a standalone booklet for parents, carers and families of children and young people affected by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. Families of children and young people were invited to meetings to provide feedback on the booklet at the consultation stage.

The young person living with FASD informed us that information for young people needed to be produced in more accessible format than a written booklet, and worked with us to develop an animated video aimed at young people. The video uses the young person's story to increase awareness of the condition. We hope this will empower others who may have the condition to seek an assessment.

Last Updated: 7 March 2024