Communicating for lasting change

The goal is to place sustainability within the dialogue and decision-making that relates to all aspects of patient, staff and visitor care, health and wellbeing.

Sustainability is about everybody helping to shape, make and accept changes in relation to how we use energy, get about, look after water and other natural resources, buy goods and services and manage our waste, then effective communication is of paramount importance. The transition to sustainability is still largely about free choice and therefore about voluntary behaviour. Choice is only a fair choice if information and advice on the alternatives is clearly and honestly available and there is space for everyone to contribute their experience and innovation.

Clearly and honestly communicating the ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of sustainability for all and any issue, along with successes, setbacks, opportunities and hurdles, is a priority action for progress.

Some actions to save energy, reduce resource use or generate less waste can be made to happen regardless of our behaviours. For example, the material provision of double glazing, renewable energy, energy efficient equipment or minimal and biodegradable packaging. However, the majority of successful sustainability actions require us, to lesser or greater degrees, to choose to do things differently.Even the benefits of material changes can be lost if we don’t choose to use them correctly (e.g. leaving double-glazed windows open in winter, wasting renewable energy and not putting biodegradable waste in the correct bin).

Good communication therefore lies at the heart of delivering sustainable development. It is a core competence within sustainability in the same way as it is in providing infection control, eradicating pressure sores or making the hospital a smoke-free zone.

Good communication will be a major influence in successfully achieving all of the Work Plan’s objectives as well as being a goal in itself. Because, at this point in time, sustainability requires ongoing change in almost everything we do, a consistency in messaging and identity is important.

Since 2008 the Trust has been using the Think Green logo and associated strap-line (“take action for a sustainable future”) to identify sustainability engagement projects and initiatives. This has successfully created a useful degree of ‘brand awareness’ that can be extended to the full range of SDMP themes – e.g. Think Green Travel, Think Green Energy and Think Green Theatres. Where Think Green means including choices about a full understanding of ‘progress with care’: progress that improves our quality of life, and care that looks after our environment and our communities in fair and responsible ways.

As part of our SDMP we will develop a sustainability 'dashboard' and a network of Sustainability Leaders and Champions to provide local leadership and delivery across the campus will be central to strengthening our communications base.