Many common community engagement methods focus on patient groups and particular kinds of voluntary groups. This means that the 'reach' of this kind of engagement tends to confine itself to people with a quite specific interest in primary and secondary care provision. Within that 'sample' will be people who are patients themselves, people who are carers for someone with a significantly debilitating condition or people who were patients at some point. The reach is largely confined to people who self-identify as 'ill', or care for someone who does. This kind of approach confines the delivery of health and wellbeing initiatives to a rather narrow kind of 'health' agenda, which inhibits the development of broader initiatives more fully focused on achieving or maintaining 'wellbeing' as a means of self-management. Innovations in self-management for wellbeing are of particular importance for resource management, and for medium to long term planning, for remote areas. To develop co-production of that sort it is important to engage with a more representative cross-section of people, including people who currently self-identify as 'well'. There is much to be learned from these individuals, about place specific means of achieving or regaining wellbeing, and health, and about current societal signals for potential future shifts in health behaviours. In this paper we describe methods being used in the Representing Communities project to achieve that kind of broader community engagement, as a means to introducing new forms of evidence, generated from creative sources, into the health and wellbeing policy arena.
This abstract was presented at the Innovative Solutions in Remote Healthcare - 'Rethinking Remote' conference, 23-24 May 2016, Inverness, Scotland.