Step One: Community Assessment

IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE: STEP 1: Community Assessment:                          

A) Hire a CHAP Coordinator:  Typically, one community agency takes responsibility for the CHAP initiative, (the Local Lead Organization).  They hire the CHAP Coordinator and manage the program and its evaluation through the CHAP Coordinator’s activities.

B) Develop a Community Profile: Mobilizing your community is a crucial step in the CHAP implementation process. The more people talk about an issue, the greater the chances are for involvement and benefit.   As more people participate in an event, it is more likely they will want to work towards its success.  The approach taken to mobilize, motivate, and raise the collective awareness of an issue will vary across communities. 

It usually takes 1-3 weeks to complete a community profile, however, your group or organization may choose to implement CHAP on a smaller scale.  This timeline and the objectives are set as ideals for a community-wide initiative. Adjust these to accommodate your needs and capacity.

The first step in mobilizing a community to raise awareness of CHAP and cardiovascular health issues is getting to know how it works and who makes things happen.  You will need to find out who are the key agencies, working groups, community champions and opinion leaders in your community and for health care professionals.

The research is done through phone calls, internet searches, visiting community groups and organizations.  The end-result is a community profile that is essentially a database of:

  • Relevant organizations, agencies and foundations.
  • The community champions – the “movers and shakers” or the individuals who make things happen in the community. Many communities recognize their volunteer leaders, and often name someone “Volunteer of the Year”. 
  • Physician opinion leaders. Make a list of potential physician opinion leaders by asking each person you speak to who they feel is the local physician expert on cardiovascular health issues.  This might be one physician or several. 
  • Other health care professionals who are opinion leaders within their profession (e.g. Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacists, Family Health Teams, Community Health Centres)
  • Researchers or administrators who are involved in community and health-oriented projects.
  • Seniors Groups and Centres.
  • Family Health Teams (FHT)/ Ontario Health Teams (OHT) or Local Health Integration Networks (LHN).
  • Community Health Centres.
  • Chronic Disease Prevention Program Manager of the Local Public Health Unit.
  • Community Support Agencies.

The Local CHAP Coordinator should determine what resources are best suited to CHAP’s mandate for their individual community. Prioritize those groups or individuals identified in the community profile to know whom to contact first. 

Connecting with collaborative organizations with similar interests may help in promoting CHAP to the community and identifying people to be Volunteer Health Educators.

C) Make a Communications Plan:  The development of a comprehensive communications plan is an integral component of CHAP’s success at the community level. Your communications plan will guide how and when CHAP representatives speak to the community and how CHAP information is disseminated. A sample communications plan is provided in Appendix 2.1.  It can be used as a guide to develop a plan that is tailored to your community’s needs.  Appendices 2.3 – 2.7 also provide samples of press releases and print and social media materials. 

Your CHAP communications plan should outline the following:

CHAP Program Goals: Overall goals of CHAP.

CHAP Communications Goals : Specific goals for CHAP’s success within your particular community.

Targeted Audiences: A list of the most relevant people or groups you want to reach.

Key Messages :

  • General: A list of 3-5 bullets outlining key messages to consistently relay to the public.
  • Specific: A list of more detailed messages that could be highlighted when the opportunity arises.
  • Channels for Communications (presentations, websites, advertisements, etc.)

Media Outlet contact information:

  • eg. print, radio, television, websites, blogs, social media accounts.

Networking opportunities:

  • eg. community gatherings, churches, senior centres, that can be used to help raise awareness of CHAP within your community.

Useful Resources:

  • Print Material: Posters, brochures
  • Media: Press releases, public service announcements, social media templates
  • Potential speaking engagements

Timeline:

  • A schedule of the overall communications plan and its deliverables.

A sound communications plan will ensure a consistent approach when speaking to the community through a variety of mediums. Once your plan is developed, use it as a guide for when, how and where you communicate with the public.    Communicating with the public and key partners on a regular basis will help to keep the CHAP momentum. 

The  bulk of the activities associated with the Communication Plan will be done by the Local CHAP Coordinator. Depending on the size and scale of your CHAP program,  some activities can be shared with  local champions or the agency who takes responsibility for the CHAP initiative, the Local Lead Organization. Everyone involved with the CHAP initiative is a potential ambassador.  Consistency and accuracy in messaging is critical.   

*Resources should be prepared and finalized before recruitment and promotion of the program starts, including outline of the volunteer training and CHAP program sessions, and all information and FAQs for health care professionals. * (See Appendices)