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.
|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.
|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.
|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.