A word with... Fay Rhodes and Paul Wildin

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A word with... Fay Rhodes and Paul Wildin

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Health Consumer Representative

Fay Rhodes is NSW Ambulance’s first frequent user program health consumer representative and Paul Wildin – NSW Ambulance Frequent User Program Manager – is the person she works with. Paul recruited Fay from Ambulance’s frequent user program to assist in the development and review of its processes.

The pair was looking for a way to upskill Fay in her new role when they found out about our training. After Fay attended our May 2019 Health Consumer Representative Training, we sat down with her and Paul.

What was your understanding of health consumer/community engagement before the HCNSW consumer representative training?

Fay: I had very little understanding of health consumer or community engagement. My knowledge about how the health system works in NSW was also limited. As my role is with one program within NSW Ambulance, I had no idea of the role of other consumer representatives in other areas.

Paul: Fay had taken on the role with no prior experience, or peers within Ambulance who could assist her with some of the challenges and new learnings associated with being a consumer representative. So, I’m delighted that Fay was able to access the consumer representative training.

Has your understanding of the role of a consumer representative changed after the training? If so, how?

Fay: I definitely have a better understanding of my role as a consumer representative and a better understanding of how the NSW Health system works and how complex it is. It was a great opportunity to hear about other people’s experiences and roles in other health districts.

Paul: It certainly has and I am very grateful for the training opportunities provided by HCNSW. The organisation supported Fay and me when we were trying to find ways to upskill and support Fay in her role. It would be wonderful if the frequent user program was able to develop a stronger pool of consumers with lived experience.

Have you noticed any changes in how Fay acts in her role as a consumer representative since the training?

Fay: I feel I have more knowledge and confidence in my role. I have been actively lobbying to address gaps within the program as the consumer representative. The training has provided me with more confidence and motivation to express my opinions.

Paul: She’s definitely more confident and assertive since the training and demonstrates a greater knowledge of health service delivery.

What are the main things you have gotten out of the consumer representative training?

Fay: I’m more confident and have greater knowledge of how NSW Health operates. Personally, it was a great opportunity to attend the training – the first time I had done anything like this in years. I had significant anxiety in the lead up but want to say a big thank you to all who attended and help run the course as I found it such an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Paul: I think it has provided Fay a fantastic opportunity to connect with peers, increased her knowledge and understanding of processes and systems as well as making her more confident, motivated and driven to contribute in her role.