WHO criterion 6: Communities have a voice, are informed, engaged and participatory in the transition.
Informing the Public
Ministerial briefings to the public continue. These are led by the First Minister supported by medical and scientific advisors. These also act as a forum to outline economic and social actions to mitigate the harms caused by the Pandemic. They continue to provide clear and consistent messaging and are followed by Q&A with journalists. This regular briefing has also been used to launch and direct the public to new publications and information on the government's actions to mitigate the harms of COVID-19.
The messaging provided by the daily briefing has been supported by marketing campaigns, primarily focused on increasing awareness of and compliance with public health measures and support for those who need it (including for domestic abuse, mental health and managing finances). Messages have evolved as restrictions have lifted, but now, with frequent changes to restrictions, marketing activity focuses on three main areas:
- Compliance (We Are Scotland - an emotive overarching campaign designed to empower the population to comply)
- FACTS (protection messaging)
- Test & Protect (Scotland's approach to implementing the test, trace, isolate and support strategy).
These campaigns direct people to the nhsinform.scot and gov.scot websites for further information. They are supported by other channels which cover the more nuanced, audience-specific information that is being updated and changed on a regular basis (ongoing changes to restrictions). Through our Partnership Team we also engage regularly with various stakeholders, partners and third sector bodies by providing assets via Stakeholder toolkits or for download on NHSInform.
Paid-for-media campaigns have additionally targeted a number of different demographics with specific messaging including: General Population – NHS Remobilisation campaign; and Clear Your Head - supporting positive mental health. Phase 3 of this has recently launched to promote continuance of physical activity as a coping mechanism during the pandemic.
Advice and Guidance has been published on a wide range of issues on the Scottish Government website to support individuals and businesses through this period. Recent publications have included information for people who are asked to self-isolate, guidance for care homes around visiting, and the dynamic guidance around international travel which is kept under review constantly.
We continue to share information around Scotland's route map, including supporting evidence for each review .
Data on the pandemic has continued to be published on the Scottish Government website daily, and is also available in Open Data format. Public Health Scotland launched their improved dashboard at the end of July and is regularly updated. Findings on modelling the epidemic continue to be shared online as well as reports of research on public attitudes and behaviours. Data on the Four Harms continue to be published on the dedicated dashboard.
Much of this work is led by the Data and Intelligence Network - a collaborative initiative bringing together public service organisations, including national and local government and health and care organisations to provide a safe, expedient and ethical access to use data and intelligence to effectively manage our response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. It has enabled rapid response to combine sources of data to solve priority issues and is building its capacity to do more.
Finding out about the public
The intention here is to develop a clear understanding of how COVID-19 and the response to it are impacting different sectors of the public. To gain an understanding of the attitudes and beliefs held by the public at this time.
Marketing activity has been developed following insight gathering qualitative groups among different audiences in Scotland. Creative work has been co-created and tested in qualitative research for effectiveness ahead of production. Impact of paid-for-media campaigns has been closely tracked, to ensure that marketing campaigns have been effective. Findings include:
For phase 2 of the Test & Protect campaign (at 13-17 August):
During phase 2, the campaign achieved 93% awareness, building from 83% achieved in phase 1 (July). Among those who had seen the campaign, 76% said that if they personally had symptoms they would request a test. 64% said they would provide details to the NHS if asked to do so for contact tracing (up from 57% at phase 1).
For NHS Remobilisation campaign (at 13 – 17 August):
Campaign awareness of 30% (expected in line with budget). Among those who had seen the campaign, 87% said it makes it clear why it is important to go to the right place for any medical care we need (against a target of 50%).
For Parent Club Summer Support (Coronavirus) campaign:
Awareness amongst parents/ carers of children 0-16 of 48% (against a target of 35%). Amongst those who had seen the campaign, 75% took action – for example on using tips/ideas for play or for coping with worries/emotions (both for parents and children).
The COVID hub has carried out a range of research, tracking the impact of COVID on communities to support effective action to mitigate the harms of the pandemic. This has included polling to monitor public attitudes, behaviours and some of the harm indicators (trust, loneliness and health). This has involved the production of weekly summaries of trends for wider policy/analysis, and monthly summaries published for external audiences.
Compliance with rules and guidance has been high, with a large and stable majority of people following the rules completely or almost completely (78%, Aug 25-26).
The virus has impacted on personal and societal wellbeing, with 38% reporting high levels of anxiety, 64% feeling worried about coronavirus and 44% reporting feeling lonely. (Aug 25-26)
Trust in Scottish Government advice and guidance is strong, with 77% viewing the Scottish Government as doing a good job to help Scotland deal with recovery following the pandemic (4-6 August) and 75% trusting the Scottish Government to work in Scotland's best interests. (Aug 25-26)
There have been increases in levels of comfort in resuming activities, with 66% feeling comfortable going to their usual place of work in the next month and 61% feeling comfortable with children going back to school. (Aug 25-26)
Recognising that the impact of COVID-19 affects certain areas of the community disproportionately, Scottish Government has worked with partners and stakeholders to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their work. This includes work to improve understanding of the existing data and to identify gaps in it to help manage risks for both the population and the workforce as lockdown is lifted.
To further this work, an Expert Reference Group (ERG) on COVID-19 and Ethnicity was established to assess and understand impacts for Minority Ethnic (ME) groups in Scotland. The ERG has now provided its initial recommendations to the Scottish Government, and a response to those is expected shortly.
In addition to the work of the ERG, there has been continued wider engagement with race equality stakeholders, including the Minister for Older People and Equalities meeting with the Ethnic Minority National Resilience Network on 27 August.
Policy teams will continue to gather data and information on how COVID is affecting the public and stakeholders throughout our response.
Engaging the public
In recognition of the evolving approach to Public Engagement across Government, an expert group has been formed to provide advice and guide our public engagement work. Following the first expert group meeting, planning is now under way to develop the next online engagement exercise which will focus on aspects of the management of the pandemic and the maintenance of public trust.
The second meeting was held on 4 August, and focused on how best the public can be engaged and involved in the Renew process, looking ahead to the longer term.
Initial public engagement is already under way within the Renew Process. For example, the Social Renewal Advisory Board has commissioned a series of community-based listening events, to ensure that lived experience informs their work. These events are already under way, and will allow the board to hear from at least 30 local authorities across Scotland. Feedback from the first round of discussions with Poverty Truth Commissions have already been received.
Complementing these events, deep dives with communities of interest are also planned, intending to use existing groups and networks as "sounding boards" for the longer term recommendations of the board. An exercise will also be run to allow interested organisations to submit responses, questions and ideas on the Social Renewal work, with thematic analysis of these responses feeding into the board.
Two citizens' assemblies are under way in Scotland, the first, on the future of Scotland met face to face in the spring, but is now reassembling to meet on line. It is more than 100 randomly selected members of the public who have been asked to deliberate on the future of Scotland in the pre-assembly work with the participants it has been clear that part of their deliberation for the remaining three weekends between 5 September and will consider the future of Scotland in the context of the pandemic.
The Climate Change Citizen's Assembly has yet to meet, but work is under way to plan the content and it too will meet over the autumn 2020 with the context of the covid-19 pandemic as a major part of the context.
Planning for a second Dialogue Platform public engagement exercise is under way. The proposed launch date is yet to be confirmed. A third dialogue exercise is anticipated before the end of the year, perhaps focused on winter challenges.
A trawl of Scottish Government Directorates identified more than 100 engagement activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic under way or in planning across Government. The expert advisory group along with a Scottish Government team with expertise from across government are continuing to develop a strategic approach to engagement and participation during the Pandemic. To connect and share experiences, to identify gaps in skills and resources and work to align information products and engagement tools which are currently under consideration or development.
On the basis of the evidence summarised above, the assessment is that this criterion has been met.
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