The federal government does not have the same perspective as a community member. Community health is local, and communities must integrate long-term strategies to manage their own health. Relying on federal grants opens a community to the political necessity of re-allocating funding to other communities. Health care should not rely on changing political winds.
The following three approaches will enhance peoples' experience of communities, and they are best to initiate during the initial design of a federal project.
* Build political support by distributing project summaries and informing local representatives in the local area about the project.
* Community members will often be asked to sign documents so that the project receives credit for recruitment. In order to validate the needs of the community though, all stakeholders should be part of an organization chart with explicit roles and responsibilities.
Establish Communication Network
* The highest priority of the Project Director is to communicate with others. Community members should feel that they are part of the communication chain and not left out from understanding the status of the project.
* Before a community organization signs a stakeholder agreement, the Project Director should develop a stakeholder communication plan. The plan will delineate the reporting structure, methods of communication, contact information, and report schedule.
* The Project Director should organize regular phone calls and meetings to learn about specific concerns and solutions from the community. The feedback from the community should then be incorporated into the regular project reporting.
* Often the schedule of tasks has been developed a priori without consulting community members. Since incomplete tasks represent a negative outcome for the project, pressure increases for the Project Director to resolve the problem. Project Directors should focus on the reasonableness of the schedule by consulting with community providers in the development of the schedule. They have the most realistic perspective of patients served in a given period.
* It is best for community member to receive a copy of the Statement of Work and also contribute to the Standard Operating Procedures.
* As part of the project design, Project Director's should develop a pilot phase for testing project processes and time frames. This preliminary phase will allow for early adjustments in time and resources.