Building the Table Together: Lessons on authentic community engagement from INSPIRE

Hosted on June 12th, 2024

In this webinar, we hear from leaders at Community Catalyst, the Camden Coalition, and the Institute for Patient & Family-Centered Care, core partners of the INSPIRE project team that is developing a national roadmap to advance authentic community engagement in healthcare. They share how INSPIRE engages people with lived experience (PWLE) as well as healthcare and community partners, and highlight key findings, recommendations, and action steps for developing and sustaining meaningful community engagement.

A public demonstration; people are leaning against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan offices, with picket signs. The one in the forefront is a young man wearing a wide brimmed hat holding a yellow sign with dark text that reads "Your greed makes me sick".

Building the Table Together: Lessons on authentic community engagement from INSPIRE

from Rx Foundation’s Power is a Social Determinant of Health series

Session description: Community engagement is a powerful tool for organizations and communities that want to create lasting and positive change. When done well, community engagement builds trust, advances health equity, creates cost-savings and efficiencies for healthcare organizations, and leads to healthy and thriving communities. Unfortunately, too often, well-intentioned community engagement initiatives are limited in diversity, fail to achieve meaningful outcomes, and fall short of authentic power-sharing.

INSPIRE (Initiating National Strategies for Partnership, Inclusion, and Real Engagement) is a national partnership project that brings together the Camden Coalition, Community Catalyst, the Center to Advance Consumer Partnership, PFCCpartners, the Institute for Patient-and Family-Centered Care, alongside a team of experts with lived experience. Together we are working to co-design a national strategy to advance meaningful partnerships between healthcare organizations and community members.

During this interactive session, members of the INSPIRE team will:

  • Discuss foundational definitions of what community engagement is and is not
  • Share major finding from INSPIRE’s research efforts engaging over 300 healthcare stakeholders and community members from across the country
  • Offer principles and actionable steps that healthcare organizations and people with lived experience can take to advance meaningful partnerships that build community power

Watch the Recording

Notable Quotes

Session Resources

Are we speaking the same language? Defining what we mean by “community engagement”

Shared language is an essential element of meaningful, sustainable community engagement. Without a standardized definition, community engagement practiced differently can lead to varying activities and inconsistent outcomes, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of the way you are engaging with your community.

The nine dimensions of authentic community engagement

Too often, healthcare professionals and community members alike find that community engagement initiatives — though well-intentioned — feel tokenistic, transactional, and unimpactful. Visit the site below to learn more about the nine dimensions of authentic community engagement, and some concrete practices you can put into place within your organization.

The Public and Patient Engagement Evaluation Tool (PPEET)

The Public and Patient Engagement Evaluation Tool (PPEET) is a series of three questionnaires to evaluate public and patient engagement. While the PPEET is not specifically focused on trust, INSPIRE has heard from several organizations that they are using this tool to evaluate their engagement initiatives.

Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement

How can centering community engagement can meaningfully influence and impact the health and well-being of communities? How do you assess meaningful community engagement? This tool, developed by the National Academy of Medicine, can be used by anyone who wants to measure engagement to ensure that it is meaningful and impactful while emphasizing equity as a critical input and outcome.

Session Highlights

INSPIRE defines community engagement as the different ways in which healthcare organizations can reach out to, engage, and partner with people with lived experience (PWLE) with the goal of working together to improve health care and achieve positive health outcomes.
“Community” can refer to people who live in the same geographical area and/or people who have characteristics or experiences in common (e.g. the trans community; people who have diabetes).
Many organizations think about community engagement in terms of partnering with other organizations, which is valuable but different from engaging directly with individual community members and PWLE.
Four key methodologies used by INSPIRE in their work to develop a national roadmap to advance authentic community engagement: listening sessions, targeted literature analysis, key informant interviews, and surveys.
INSPIRE has noticed that there is a high interest in community engagement, but inconsistent implementation of it; organizations are often not reaching out in a way that meaningfully engages their community; practical, tactical support is needed in the field.
Community engagement should go beyond engaging people just to check the box, but actually have an impact that is meaningful for and in service of both the community and healthcare organizations.
Promising practices that support authentic engagement: asset-based, diverse and inclusive, equitable, impactful, integrated, mutually beneficial, resourced & compensated, transformational & restorative, trust-based.
Engagement with PWLE needs to be both resourced and compensated, it should not be a volunteer effort.
In order to be meaningful and authentic, community engagement can’t be transactional; it has to be transformational.
There is no consistent structure of community engagement within organizations. Because there is no standard definition of “community engagement”, organizations often have different activities and outcomes.
Some of INSPIRE’s recommendations to advance authentic community engagement: increase access to hands on training and learning for health care professionals leading the work; prioritize leadership, development, and capacity building for PWLE (particularly those from under-represented communities) to step into equal partnership roles; close gaps to diversity, equity and inclusion and reach community power; improve organizational-level infrastructure to support high quality and impactful community engagement; develop a shared approach to community engagement to better measure impact; address structural and policy opportunities that impact the uptake of community engagement.


Erica Andrade, President/CEO of El Centro

Taylor Brown (she/her)

Taylor Brown is the Program Assistant for Community Engagement & Capacity Building. In this role, she assists in managing the Community Ambassador Program, Youth Ambassador Program, Community Advisory Committee, and other community engagement initiatives.

Taylor received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology from Iona University, as well as a minor in Diversity & Social Welfare and a minor in Criminal Justice. Outside of work, Taylor enjoys watching sports and spending time at the beach.

Erica Andrade, President/CEO of El Centro

Pam Dardess, MPH (she/her)

Pam Dardess provides consultation and training to health care organizations; serves as faculty for IPFCC seminars, webinars, and meetings; and assists with strategic planning to scale up the practice of patient- and family-centered care. Prior to joining IPFCC, Pam was a principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) where her work focused on stakeholder engagement; patient-centered measurement; and the development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies and interventions to promote patient and family engagement (PFE). While at AIR, Pam led work to develop and evaluate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety. She also directed a project to provide PFE-related training and technical assistance to the Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks (HIINs) and their member hospitals as part of CMS’s Partnership for Patients initiative.

Outside of work, Pam enjoys hiking, being a Girl Scout leader, and following professional cycling. Pam lives in North Carolina with her husband and two daughters.

Erica Andrade, President/CEO of El Centro

Siena Ruggeri (she/her)

Siena Ruggeri is a Community Engagement Consultant for the Center for Community Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst. In this role, she supports organizations as they meaningfully engage with their communities, with the goal of improving health care services and overall health of people with complex needs, particularly those from systemically excluded communities.

Siena is passionate about health justice. At the Center, Siena provides consulting services to a range of organizations, including health plans and providers, hospitals, state agencies, and organizations serving older adults, people with disabilities, and people with complex health care needs. Siena offers facilitation, training, and other services to assist with developing and implementing programs to better serve members/patients, with a particular emphasis on beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid. At the same time, Siena seeks to advance opportunities that address social drivers of health, and promote health equity.

Previously, Siena worked as a government relations associate at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, where her portfolio included health care, housing, labor, and paid leave federal policy. Siena received a bachelor’s degree in politics from Regis University and a minor in peace and justice studies.

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