Decommissioning can be alarming and stressful for those directly affected and commissioners should handle the process with appropriate empathy and sensitivity. Uncertainty and lack of information can heighten this stress and commissioners should be able, and available, to answer any questions that stakeholders may have.
It may be helpful to identify the questions that stakeholders are likely to ask, and agree appropriate answers (including, where appropriate, checking these answers with legal and other relevant advisers). Once the intention to decommission becomes more widely known then commissioners may need to deal with questions and complaints from a wider group of stakeholders who are unlikely to have been involved in the planning process. Coupled with this, it is important to ensure that relevant and publicly available documentation is accessible by providers, stakeholders and others if unnecessary suspicion or complaint is to be avoided.
There may be a need to provide practical support to organisations and staff that are affected by the process of decommissioning.
The decommissioning protocols we reviewed also highlighted the usefulness of having a code of conduct or memorandum of understanding governing the behaviours of commissioners and providers during decommissioning, especially if it is likely to take more than three months to complete the process.