HCA is working with the Women’s and Children’s Health Network to develop an innovative and evidence-based Consumer and Community Engagement Strategy for the Network.  This will be a strategy and plan that contains many quality improvement activities to encourage consumers and community representatives to participate in decision making.

A wide range of research indicates that involving consumers in their own care, as well as in the design of services, results in improved health outcomes.

The project has been guided by a Project Advisory Group (PAG) which includes consumers, community members, WCHN staff and project leaders. There is also a Project Management Group (PMG) consisting of HCA and WCHN staff to complete the detailed work of developing the Strategy. The Project Sponsor is Adjunct Associate Professor Naomi Dwyer, Chief Executive Officer of the WCHN. Dr Anne Johnson, well known to many HCA members, is a consultant to the project and working alongside Michael and myself within the HCA team.

So far the PAG and PMG have:

  • identified research literature to understand the best activities for supporting and engaging consumers and community representatives in health service planning and providing feedback, including a focus on diversity and children’s engagement
  • reviewed publically available Consumer and Community Engagement Strategies prepared by other Australian health services.
  • Interviewed several health services about lessons we can learn from their experiences.
  • reviewed the  consumer and community engagement activities in place across the services of the WCHN  and looked at what is working well and what we can learn for strengthening activities.
  • heard the views of over 230 people through their participation in interviews, group meetings and in online surveys. This included consumers, community organisations/groups and WCHN staff.
  • consulted with Children of the Hospital Education School through an art-project to gain their views on how they would like to be talked to and what about.
  • Held a very successful Consensus Conference on April 22 for key stakeholders to decide on principles and priority actions for the Strategy.  81 participants attended.

HCA is now assisting the Network in writing the Strategy and Implementation Plan. This will also include a range of activities for building the capacity of staff and consumers in engagement practices. The Strategy will have a strong focus on information and communications which is vital when considering the diversity and statewide nature of services delivered by the Network.