There are a range of ways you might want to involve and partner with consumers, carers, family and community members in your work. This information may help you when considering involving consumer, carer, community or family representatives in a working group or committee, or similar structure.
Some things to consider when recruiting and working with consumer representatives:
- We recommend having at least two consumer representatives in most cases. This provides the representatives with some support and also enables you to seek a bit of diversity of perspectives. It may also help address some of the power imbalance which exists between people in different roles on the group.
- Consider if there are any groups that might have a perspective you’re interested in that may not come forward for this type of role – this can include people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal people, people with disability and people experiencing disadvantage, including homelessness – if your representatives don’t have these perspectives, you could consider how else you’ll find out what is important to these groups. (You can chat with us if these are groups you’re looking for input from.)
- Depending on the make-up of the rest of the group, and the level of experience of the consumer rep, you may want to consider the group and power dynamics in the working group. If this person will be the only consumer voice at the table, you could consider whether you, or the group Chair, might be able to reach out to the person in advance of the meeting. You might also want to follow up after the meeting to see if they have any questions or comments that they didn’t feel able to raise in the meetings.
- Be clear about what you’re hoping and expecting from the role and the person. For example:
- How long and how often are meetings?
- Are there lots of papers for them to read? Is it possible they might need these to be printed out and sent as hard copy?
- Is the venue for the meetings easy to access? Is there plenty of parking? Or easy access to public transport? (We’d suggest always including information about these when confirming meeting arrangements.)
- Are they expected to liaise with other consumers or community members to inform the input they provide to this group? How will they be supported to do this?
- For example, we can circulate information about surveys and other consultations through our networks if that’s appropriate?
- Bear in mind that many consumers have other commitments including family, work, and their own or their family’s health – they may not have time to do much extra work outside of meetings.
- Have you confirmed whether you will be offering them a consumer participation payment?
- You may already know that it’s good practice to fund the participation costs of consumer reps that are involved in this kind of work. It’s also helpful to clarify this up front.
- This is the link to Health Consumers’ Council policy which gives a bit more information about some things to consider. The payment table is on page 9.
- Some roles also pay for travel or parking expenses if the budget allows.
- If you’d like to look at another policy, this is the one from the Mental Health Commission https://www.mhc.wa.gov.au/media/3614/paid-participation-policy-consultation-completed-amended-policy.pdf
We are always happy to chat through early ideas to help you develop your plan. If you’d like to talk through your plans for involving and partnering with consumers, please reach out to Kieran Bindahneem in the Engagement Team – email@example.com
Our team has worked with the Department of Health, the WA Primary Health Alliance and the Mental Health Commission and have an understanding of working within the parameters of different organisations.
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