Top Tips for Holding a Crohn’s and Colitis Service Open Day

A service open day is a free event that gives people using a service, including parents, carers and newly diagnosed patients, the chance to meet their healthcare team. This could give patients an opportunity to talk about their experience and suggest ways the service could be better and could also be used to help you find individuals who are interested in get more involved in service development in some of the ways described above. Read our tops tips for running and open day below.

Preparation and Planning

  • Have aims and objectives so everyone is clear why you’re organising a service open day. What is the most important reason? Open days can be great for raising awareness, educating, promoting something or consulting with people. Ensure the aims are reflected in the programme and publicity.
  • Choose which engagement activities will help you meet your aims and objectives. Choose one or two activities from this toolkit or adapt them. Do further research if you have never tried a method and think about what you might need, such as size and layout of rooms, facilitators, stationery, admin support etc.
  • Think about accessibility and how to make your event as accessible and inclusive as possible. See our Accessibility and Inclusivity Guide.
  • Do not assume that the event needs to be held in a hospital. Other venues may be more suitable and accessible by public transport.
  • Look at opportunities for funding to cover publicity, catering costs, volunteer expenses etc, including funding from Crohn’s & Colitis UK’s Local Networks.
  • Involve your local IBD Patient Panel. If there is a local Panel, get in touch with them as early as possible, arrange for them to attend to talk to people about getting involved in Patient Panels.
  • For your information stand, order plenty of information from Crohn’s & Colitis UK, including for people who are newly diagnosed.
  • Invite influencers/key stakeholders such as your Trust/ Board’s Chief Executive/Director of Nursing and Quality and local politicians.


  • Can your Trust or Board’ s communications department help with posters, flyers, newsletter articles and official social media channels?
  • Use ‘What’s On columns’ in local newspapers and contact local radio stations. Ask if they can write a short piece on the conditions and your service open day.  Signpost them to our website to help them write this. Invite a journalist along.
  • Advertise to community groups or places where your audience might be likely to go such as GP surgeries, pharmacies.
  • Give personal invites and letters to patients at outpatient clinics including newly diagnosed patients. We have created a sample letter. 
  • Don’t forget to include staff in invitations, including teams where referrals are made for IBD patients such as mental health, rheumatology, dermatology, obstetrics and gynaecology.
  • Ask your Crohn’s & Colitis UK local network to advertise the day in their newsletter and on social media.

On the day

  • Assign people jobs for the day (meet and greet, looking after special guests, collecting feedback etc).
  • Signpost and put up posters between the hospital/venue entrance and the room. Ask someone to meet and greet people at the main entrance beside a poster or banner. Don’t forget to inform hospital/ venue reception.
  • Make sure everyone knows where the toilets are.
  • Have a back-up plan with the agenda/programme and presentations ready in both PowerPoint and hard copy.
  • ​Encourage feedback and give people the option to give feedback by phone or email to make it even better next time.