The purpose of this paper is to determine opportunities, resources, and capacity building supports that enable volunteer capacity to participate in localized health planning processes.
A case study methodology is employed in this study. A range of qualitative research methods including focus groups, individual interviews, observation and document analysis is used to gather detailed data about the experience of the health volunteers. They engage in an in‐depth analysis of this experience. A thematic analysis of volunteer accounts informs the explanation of the case and the study findings.
The development of partnerships between health systems and communities is advocated as a means of enhancing overall community capacity to address priority health concerns, and to reduce escalating health care costs and inequities. The process of building health partnerships is complex, requiring extensive assessment of both health system and community readiness. Health volunteers have many capacities well suited to collaborative activity; these are more likely to find expression when barriers are minimized and facilitative conditions are maximized. The study finds that dialogue is a key mechanism for assessing community and system readiness, and for building trust and mutual understanding in such health partnerships. This case study introduces facilitated dialogue as a mechanism for assessing volunteer readiness and timely capacity building resources and supports, in line with the developmental needs of volunteers. Assessing health system readiness involves consideration of health system goals and definitions of participation, and overall commitment to developing and resourcing this kind of system‐wide change where the outcomes are longer term in nature. This commitment entails training of health professionals in the relevant health promotion knowledge and skills. This extends to mobilizing, nurturing, and supporting volunteer capacity to work with the health system to make informed decisions about the health needs of their community.
A health system perspective on this question should be explored to identify other complex challenges associated with managing this kind of system‐wide change.
The paper provides detailed insights into the experience of health volunteers in a health planning context. These insights potentially inform concrete strategies for assessing community strengths and readiness, and for minimizing barriers to volunteer participation, particularly in a rural context.
The paper provides insights about how health system structure and environmental processes can be adapted to create an environment conducive to community participation.
Coady, M. (2009), "Enabling volunteer health planning capacity: a rural Canadian case study", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 393-404. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506200910999138Download as .RIS
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