We are working our way through the impact of Covid-19, and one of the residual impacts is that there has been a disconnection and fracturing of relationships in the community between and among organisations, entities, businesses and the people they work with. This is due to a number of reasons, including lost funding, organisations 'pivoting' for survival or changing focus, changes of personnel, changes to face to face behaviour, and loss of contact details and usual methods of contact. We presented on some of this at the NZSSD conference earlier this year with a presentation called "Help...our job is community health promotion, where's the community?"
The relationships are expected to slowly recover, and the scene is going to look very different to what it did just about 2 years ago. As regularly happens, in a meeting recently there was a discussion about 'stocktaking' in relation to diabetes and health promotion. Who is out in the community, doing what, with whom?
When people envisage a stocktake, they may imagine a detailed search, a comprehensive list of providers and organisations will be built, and then off everyone goes happily collaborating and turning up work synergies. And that's right. As far as it goes. What may not be immediately apparent to someone embarking on a 'stocktake' in the community, whether it's for services or capacity or resources or knowledge or something else, is that the picture is complicated and even at the best of times, endlessly changeable.
A stocktake is a desirable thing however unless 'everyone' with a significant interest is part of that taking-of-stock and the communication is excellent, then there may not be enough active connections for everyone to know that a stocktake has even occurred. This, and not updating frequently enough, leads to endless duplications of the process.
So, assuming a successful stocktaking is carried out, and it is communicated effectively and updated regularly, is that the end of the story story when working in the community? No, then there becomes the challenge of envisaging and working out actual relationships and how organisations fit together, the available and preferred communication pathways, and even whether one organisation can support the messages, ethics and method of working of another.
This photograph is from a 2006 event run by Diabetes Projects Trust to bring together different organisations and stakeholders as part of the Lets Beat Diabetes (LBD) project in Counties Manukau. One exercise on the day was to give representatives of the organisations present a marker, and have them draw out how they saw their connections to other organisations on a 5 meter long piece of vinyl. Well...remembering there are only a subset of all the stakeholders present and the drawing is still under construction...the picture speaks for itself. Yes please, a stocktake would be useful. Good luck!