What do consumer representatives do with health services?
Health consumers in NSW have participated in a wide range of activities with health services. As consumer participation grows across Australia, health services these activities will undoubtedly also grow. The list below provides a number of examples of how health consumers have contributed to health service decision making and improving consumer-centred care. The activities or roles towards the end of the list are examples of roles performed by the most experienced consumer representatives and are often paid positions.
|Participating in forums and focus groups||These are often one-off events, focused on a small set of issues and many consumers may be involved.|
|Committee roles with staff and clinicians||A very common role for consumers where one or two consumer members are appointed to a committee to bring the consumer perspective to the work and decision making of the committee (for example a Safety and Quality Committee for a hospital)|
|Committee roles with other consumers||A committee or advisory group of consumer representatives. The group will have a ‘terms of reference’ (defined role and responsibilities) and be responsible for providing the community and consumer perspective to a health facility, health service or region. Sometimes the members are nominated by various consumer organisations to represent a network of consumers.|
|Administering patient/client feedback surveys or service evaluations||Consumers are effective at interviewing and surveying other consumers in a non-threatening way for service evaluations.|
|Advising on information designed for consumers||It is important that written or visual information aimed at consumers is developed and tested with consumers.|
|Commenting on health service policy and strategic plans||Consumers working with health services in a variety of ways can be invited to contribute to policy and planning.|
|Planning and facilitating community forums||Consumer representatives can use local knowledge to help plan and run community engagement.|
|Community outreach||Consumers are often engaging speakers for community groups on health issues and can speak with community members at expos or community days.|
|Participating in planning and project workshops with staff and management||Involving consumer representatives in workshops with staff ensures the consumer perspective is taken into account in project and strategic planning.|
|Training staff and clinicians||Consumers have made powerful contributions as trainers at many health services across NSW, sharing the consumer perspective through their own experiences.|
|Presenting at conferences and seminars||Consumer representatives working as partners with a health service are strong advocates and also are very capable of presenting the outcomes of engagement programs.|
|Peer worker||In mental health, particular peer workers are people with a lived experience of mental illness who are employed to work with and support clients living with mental illness.|
|Consumer consultant||A paid position bringing a professional level of consumer advice and leadership to a health service.|
|Consumer director on health service boards||Board director position on a skills based board with the skill of ‘consumer’. Not merely a ‘community representative’, a consumer director is a very highly experienced and skilled consumer representative with the professional skills to perform at board level.|