West Suffolk Listening and Engagement Exercise

case study:
West Suffolk Listening and Engagement Exercise

Staff at West Suffolk Community Health services are committed and motivated professionals, Covid-19 has understandably impacted their work and Rethink Partners was invited in to host a listening exercise with colleagues to understand and playback experiences and explore how best to get thinks back on track. We listened, explored, sense checked, then built a report and change pathway to help leaders and staff generate change.


An internal feedback exercise highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on staff morale and the Trust wanted to get more insight on what needs to change.


Rethink Partners facilitated an in-depth listening exercise to understand better how the Trust can improve its operation to re-build trust with colleagues, and present this to stakeholders.


Staff feel listened to and key stakeholders understand where the problems lie and have a clear route to transformation they can implement to boost colleague morale.

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Although staff at West Suffolk Community Health services are committed professionals, Covid-19 has understandably impacted their work life balance.

West Suffolk Community Health services are a key service in the local health and care economy. Staff working in the community are generally committed, purposeful clinicians and professionals who have a strong sense of local identity, vested in their integrated neighbourhood team. People love their jobs – what they do, where they do it.

Covid-19 has impacted the balance of their work between routine and responsive care. Acuity, complexity and demand are increasing. Staff are playing a significant role in supporting the delivery of other services, and the pandemic has slowed down previously good progress on integration; staff are keen to see all of this restored and rebalanced.

The lack of data means that the impact of community work is not visible to the organisation and wider system. There is a concern amongst staff that what is unique and precious about community services risks being lost – “community is a specialism within itself.”

Thriving integrated community health and care services are vital to the medium-term plans of the local system led by the Alliance, and to the redevelopment and sustainability of West Suffolk Hospital. In order to really support these services to thrive, WSFT needs to
change the lens through which community services is viewed – community is not a division of the hospital: it is hosted and should be viewed as an entity in its own right. The relationship should be one of support and accountability, giving community health the autonomy, voice and resources to play a key role in the wider West Suffolk Alliance.

The Alliance also needs to strengthen its focus on integrated community services. With integration intended to progress rapidly, there is now an opportunity to create a strong sense of what the community is – its identity, purpose and mission – what it contributes and what it needs around it to support it – as an integral and high priority element of plans for the local system, with the resources, leadership and accountability arrangements needed to ensure success.


Rethink Partners was drafted in to listen to the concerns of the healthcare workers and create a report, which translated its findings into actionable insights. for key stakeholders to understand the general mood and to generate change.

Before enlisting the help of Rethink Partners, West Suffolk Community Health service staff participated in a Trust-wide exercise – What Matters to You – looking across the organisation at what it is like working for West Suffolk Foundation Trust. During this exercise, it became apparent that more investigation was needed into the mood and concerns of staff working at the trust.

Rethink Partners conducted more than 50 one-to-one sessions and focus groups with colleagues across the Trust to dig deeper.

Those involved included adult community services in West Suffolk and involved staff from community services, the wider trust, social care and wider partners, split into two halves: the discovery phase and the engagement phase.

Following these conversations, Rethink Partners produced an in-depth report about their findings, proposing recommendations to restore faith in working for the trust across seven key areas:

  • Identity, Purpose and Mission
  • The Business Model
  • Harnessing Data
  • Local is Best
  • Embedding a Clear Model of Care with Unified Improvement and Innovation Culture
  • Integrated Community Health and Care as a Strategic System Priority
  • Wider Health and Care System

The report was then translated into a roadmap, enabling the Trust to implement its recommendations over an extended time period.


Gave staff the opportunity to voice their feelings, in a safe and confidential environment

Provided the basis for an entire digital transformation roadmap for the Trust

Ensured key stakeholders understood how and why change needs to happen.

Provided insight into what the Trust is doing right, in the eyes of its colleagues.