Our people and communities

“We need to listen, to learn by trying to understand other’s lived experiences, and we need to co-design the services that people and communities in Dorset need going forward. We need to work with others to help people not just live long, healthy lives, but long lives that add quality and that’s about personal happiness.”

A headshot of Patricia Miller
Patricia Miller OBE
Chief Executive
NHS Dorset

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Your stories, your lives, your communities

We want to be inspired by people, empower, and listen to help us to improve health and care services for the better. We want to help all people, to live longer, happier, and healthier lives. And this work starts with people and communities in Dorset. But it extends across everything that we do and where we live – putting patients, carers, and people in the driving seat. Together, we can make things better.

Seven ways we are thinking differently:

Dorset is a great place to live, work and grow up. But across Dorset where you live can affect how long you live, and how healthy you are. In some parts of Dorset, people live shorter lives, and struggle to get access to health and care services. We would like to give everyone the chance to have a happy, long, and healthy life – wherever they live in Dorset.

We want to change things from the ground up to make health and social care better in Dorset. Some people are frustrated because we have not done enough in the past to really listen to them, see things as they do, and make things better.

There are lots of different organisations in Dorset that can help in keeping you in good health and help when you are ill or need support. This can be different NHS services, the council, or the community and voluntary sector. We believe that all the organisations involved in health and caring for people in Dorset should work together more than they have in the past.

We want to make use of the skills of people, groups, and organisations. We have looked at what local people have been telling us over the last five years and have used this to describe how we can work better with people and communities. We have listened to what you have told us. And we will:

  • keep listening to the voices of people and communities so that we find out what matters to people;
  • work to make sure all communities have a voice and have their needs understood;
  • ensure all local people’s views are at the centre of decision making.

We want to listen, hear, and tell your stories about your everyday lives so that we can make better decisions every day and get the big decisions right.

We will work to see if we are making a difference, not only by looking at facts and figures, but also asking people how well we are doing. We want to hear from you.

We will use plain language to make what we do clear. Let us know if we are not doing this well or could do better.

What our partners say

Understanding what really matters to people, and genuinely listening and responding to that, is at the heart of high-quality care, and improving people’s health and wellbeing.

Sam Crowe, Director, Public Health
If not now when? We’re at a critical point in time – we all need to continue to pull together and work as equal partners with our communities … as everyone deserves to live well.
Karen Loftus, Chief Executive, Community Action Network

I believe there is a sea change in the relationship between the voluntary and statutory sectors. There is mutual respect, determination and a shared vision to provide a health service that strives to meet the needs of everyone in Dorset.

Nick Rowe, Project Manager, Dorset Community Mental Health Alliance

Healthwatch Dorset works hard to provide up-to date information and gather local people’s views on health and social care services. Our small staff team and amazing volunteers are passionate about giving people the opportunity to share their experiences of using health and social care services across Dorset and making sure that this valuable feedback reaches the powers that be and leads to positive change.

We work closely with NHS commissioners and providers, local councils, care providers and the voluntary sector, sharing people’s concerns and queries to help improve local services. The feedback we gathered last year; engagement with children and young people; our community outreach work with people experiencing homelessness and our latest reports on people’s access to dentistry and experience of using A&E services are helping the NHS and councils make service improvements.

We are really pleased to be working with NHS Dorset to develop a strategic approach to working with people and communities that puts local people’s views and experiences at the heart of decision-making.

Viv Aird, Chair, Healthwatch Dorset Steering Group
The development of NHS Dorset is a great opportunity for statutory and voluntary organisations to come together as equal partners and as part of the wider integrated care system, to put an end to the inflexibility that has created the existing inequalities for many of Dorset residents. The Dorset integrated care system will enable residents to be at the centre of all decision-making processes to reduce the health inequalities, to avoid duplication and to pool resources more effectively. These are exciting times that we all need to embrace to create a positive change for all and for the future.
Nathalie Sherring, Chief Executive, Dorset Race Equality Council

We must listen to people at the earliest stage of service design, development, and evaluation. Only through this approach can you truly understand what matters to people.

Ian Gall, Chair, Our Dorset Public Engagement Group

We believe that people and communities have a wealth of experience and expertise to contribute to the development and ongoing sustainability of a truly place-based and integrated care system for Dorset. By putting people and communities at the heart of system thinking, transformation and integration, we can move away from “them and us” culture to work collaboratively “all of us” as citizens of Dorset. Genuine integration and coproduction across Statutory, Voluntary and Community organisations and local communities will ensure that people and their voices are heard and integrated within all decisions that affect them and their lives.

Becky Aldridge, Chief Executive, Dorset Mental Health Forum

We need to listen, to learn by trying to understand other’s lived experiences, and we need to codesign the services that people and communities in Dorset need going forward. We need to work with others to help people not just live long, healthy lives, but long lives that add quality and that’s about personal happiness.

Patricia Miller OBE, Chief Executive, NHS Dorset

NHS Dorset, working together locally, offers us a huge opportunity to develop great partnerships and teamwork between support providers of all kinds in a whole range of different places. Creating better connections and integration with the huge contribution of the voluntary and community sector will support smarter working between all partners. Better integration will facilitate even more practical, grass-roots support that will improve the quality of life, health, and care of all Dorset’s residents.

Jon Sloper, Chief Executive, #HelpAndKindness

To build a truly collaborative approach with NHS Dorset and all the partners is so important and vital to make a difference to people’s lives, working together makes what we do so much sense, means we are stronger and better.

Alex Picot, Chief Executive, Dorset Community Action

The voluntary sector must mobilise its amazing potential so we can find solutions to the huge challenges faced by the National Health Service, embrace the opportunities the new Integrated Care System offers and help the of people Dorset live happier and healthier lives.

Linda O'Sullivan, Chief Executive, Dorset Mind

The role of parish and town councils as a source of key information for residents on a broad range of topics has moved into a more dynamic space following the Covid-19 pandemic. Community based social media fed by local councils, will play an increasingly important role.

Neil Wedge, Chief Executive, Dorset Association of Parish Town Councils

The voluntary and community Sector holds a privileged position of supporting health and wellbeing at a local level.  By developing unified partnerships with NHS Dorset, we build stronger connections to individual voices and what communities want and need to thrive.

Caroline Moylan, Director of Homelessness, Bournemouth Churches House Association