Dave Jansen, Performance Improvement and Accountability Coordinator, Planning and Strategic Initiatives Department
November 5, 2018
Board of Health Education Sessions – Summer 2018
As per the Ontario Public Health Standards, the Board of Health is required to ensure that board members are aware of their roles and responsibilities and emerging issues and trends by ensuring the development and implementation of a comprehensive orientation plan for new board members and a continuing education program for board members. To this end, the WECHU provides various education sessions to the board of health membership. Topics and frequency are chosen based on identified and perceived need. Two education sessions were held this past summer, on the topics of health equity and the departmental programming updates under the new standards. This report is a summary of the post-session evaluations.
July Board of Health Education Session: Health Equity
The first education session was delivered to increase board awareness and competency on the topic of health equity. Health equity was identified as an area needing improvement on the 2017 Board of Health competency-based self-assessment. Objectives of the session were to enhance Board of Health members’ knowledge of key concepts and increase their ability to take health equity promoting approaches. Twelve Board of Health members attended this education session.
After the education session, a survey was distributed to determine if objectives were met, obtain feedback to inform and enhance future sessions, and assess and reinforce key session content. Eleven of the 12 attending board members filled out this survey, all of whom strongly agreed or agreed that the session was worthwhile, stated objectives were met, and the session increased their understanding of ways to help promote health equity.
Furthermore, 91% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the session helped them better understand what things make it harder for people to be healthy, and where to find more information about health equity. They also strongly agreed or agreed that the session informed them on approaches the WECHU is taking to reduce health inequities, and increased their confidence to take action in addressing health inequities.
Nearly two thirds (64%) of the respondents indicated that they planned to take action based on what they learned from the session within the next three months. These respondents were prompted to share comments of how they planned to take action, which included actions related to board roles as well as work outside of the organization. Responses included ensuring the WECHU’s operating budget supports programs and services consistent with the Health Equity Plan. There was also discussion on sharing health equity promoting concepts with municipal and workplace colleagues, as well as raising awareness through conversations with other institutions. Respondents also suggested they would act on advancing health equity policies, incorporating knowledge into strategic planning, and incorporating session materials and knowledge into their own presentations.
When asked how they would rate the training overall, all respondents indicated that the training was excellent or very good, and that the speaker presented effectively. Positive remarks about the preparation, knowledge, and enthusiasm conveyed throughout the presentation were shared.
August Board of Health Education Session: Department Updates
The second education session provided an update on recent initiatives in six different health unit departments. Presentations were given by health unit staff on various topics, including the public disclosure system, West Nile Virus/enhanced mosquito surveillance, potassium iodide distribution, school suspensions, school-aged health promotion, migrant farm TB and STBBI testing, mental health, and oral health programming. Eight board of health members attended this session, including one by teleconference. All eight members completed the post-session evaluation survey, on which they all reported the education session was excellent or very good.
Seven of the eight respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the education session was worthwhile, the information was presented clearly and effectively, and that the stated objectives were met. The same number of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the session satisfied their personal expectations, was relevant to their role as board members, and provided them with new knowledge, which they intended to use.
Five respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the session provided them with new skills, and seven respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they plan to use the skills they’ve learned.
Six respondents (75%) said the session was well organized. When asked what the most useful part of the session was, a common theme was clarity. Respondents wrote that the clarification on roles, responsibilities, and tasks that the WECHU staff undertake was useful, and that it was a good reminder of how much happens at the health unit and the passionate staff at work. Also mentioned was the material that covered relevant legislation, and the information provided about migrant farm workers.
Respondents were asked how they will apply what they’ve learned to their role on the Board of Health. Respondents said the education session helped them understand what public health does, which will help them in better board decision making, and enrich their discussions at board meetings and with the community. When asked to share any additional comments or suggestions, one said it was a lot of information to pack into one session, since they already have board information reports for each board meeting, there may be the ability to condense. Another said more detail would have been helpful for the number of positive results of zoonotic diseases, in addition to the number of cases investigated. Others commented on the improvement over prior presentations, and complimented the health unit for keeping the board up to date on issues that affect the health and safety of the public.
Lastly, respondents were asked to identify any additional training aspects that would be of interest in their capacity as a Board of Health member. Two respondents suggested a greater explanation of the functions of the board of health after the municipal election takes place, including topics of board governance, board bylaws, Roberts Rules of Order, legislative requirements, and ways to support WECHU leadership and staff. One respondent said that public health represents a huge piece of health care and it deserves a broad educational piece so that the board can appreciate its diversity of programs. Another suggested using the extra time after short meetings for staff to make presentations, whether it’s a new topic or to reinforce what is already known. There was also one comment on having a built environment bike tour around the city to go see the local active transportation facilities and learn about associated health impacts.
The following individuals contributed to this report:
- Marc Frey, Planning and Strategic Initiatives
- Jennifer Johnston, Planning and Strategic Initiatives
- Kristy McBeth, Knowledge Management