“It is important to the CHB that the public is involved and has input to the new community Health Plan,: said Board Chair Peter Lewis. “Susan and Kelly gave the Board ideas about how to involve the public and what it is that we promise to the public.”
Dunn and Thompson, who have much training and involvement in public engagement in the former Capital District Health Authority in Halifax told the Board that engagement requires understanding and effective communication between the CHB and the public.
“Engagement involves people in the decision making process,” said Lewis. “It is having them feel involved and part of the process. Public engagement is two-way and seeks common understanding and common ground and leads to trust-based, sustainable relationships.”
He says it’s important that the public is given full information and that their voices and concerns are heard and acknowledged.
“As our community Health Plan is for all of the citizens in our community, we need to communicate in a variety of formats, from traditional formats such as newspapers and radio to electronic formats to social media.”
Jimi Kaye, the new manager for the CHBs in Cumberland County, was present at the May meeting to talk about his new role in Cumberland County. The Cumberland CHBs are now part of the Northern Zone which came into operation on April 1 with the new Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) which replaced the nine former health authorities in the province. The IWK will continue to have its own Authority.
He says this will involve some administrative changes but the work of CHBs as “the eyes and ears” of the communities they serve is more important than ever.
“We have a legislated mandate to listen at the local level and to advise the new NSHA,” he told those in attendance. “CHBs have a mandated role to be proactive in the wellness and healthy lifestyles of our citizens. As part of this role, we provide wellness grants each fall to applications from groups who make proposals.”
The recent Nova Scotia budget cut back a significant portion of the Department of Health and Wellness funding of these grants, back to the 2011 funding levels.
“This will affect the number of wellness grants the three CHBs in the county are able to award,” said Lewis. “Wellness grants are awarded on the basis of serving healthy lifestyles and physical activities among on our citizens. We award them to a broad cross-section of our population, from youth in the schools to senior citizens. In the last several years we have had more applications than money to disperse. We will need to be more selective than ever this year.”
The Pugwash and Area CHB will hold its annual general meeting on June 2 and welcomes members of all county CHBs.
On June 4, the last CHB meeting before the summer break on June 4 will feature Janice Melanson who will speak about the activities of CAST (Communities Addressing Suicide Together).
“This is a serious and important matter that affects many communities,” said Lewis.
The Pugwash and Area CHB can be found on the Village of Pugwash website or by contacting CHB chair, Peter Lewis, at 902-243-2075 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.