In 2015 the Women's and Children's Health Network committed to working in partnership with the HCA (Health Consumers Alliance) to develop a new way of engaging with the community and consumers in service delivery, design and processes.
A project advisory group was established alongside a management advisory group, in which consumers co-chaired and led the process. A literature review was conducted in early 2015 about the current landscape of community and consumer engagement.
On Wednesday 22 April, 2015 more than 85 members of the WCHN, including Governing Council, Executive Directors, Directors of Network Services, senior managers and clinicians joined more than 30 consumers and representatives from the Department for Education and Child Development, Multicultural Services, Type 1 Voice and the Women's & Children's Hospital Foundation to determine the future direction of Consumer and Community Engagement for the Network.
Download the information pack provided to participants at the Consensus Conference, and the post-conference report:
Person and Family Centred Care is healthcare that is respectful of and responsive to the preferences, needs and values of the individual consumer and their family/support people with dimensions including respect, emotional support, physical comfort, information and communication, continuity and transition, care coordination, involvement of family and carers, and access to care. Engagement processes recognise the social context within which people live and engage family where appropriate in care, service improvement and governance.
Treating consumers and families with dignity and respect.
Encouraging and supporting engagement in decision making by consumers and families.
Consumers define who is regarded as family.
Communicating and sharing information and shared decision making.
Collaboration between consumers, families and community groups/organisations and health professionals in shared decision making about care and within the health network.
Providing the support consumers and families need to engage with the health network.
Partnerships are reflective of the diverse range of backgrounds in the population served by the health network, including those people who do not usually provide feedback.
Every reasonable effort should be made to engage with a diverse range of people.
The participation of Aboriginal families and groups should be guided by the SA Health Guide for Engaging with Aboriginal
Engagement processes are culturally safe, and WCHN ask about this in the right way.
WCHN recognise that the health of Aboriginal people needs to be seen within the historical context and impacts of colonisation, marginalisation, loss of land, language and culture.
The health Network and staff engage with individuals and groups who use or can partner with WCHN services including: consumers from diverse backgrounds; family and support people important to the consumer; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; people with a disability; older adults; young people; people with a mental illness; people with drug and alcohol issues; people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds; LGBTIQ communities; homeless; and other vulnerable groups.
Consumers, families, and the community groups/organisations engage as equal partners with the health network and its staff.
Consumers, family and community groups/organisations are actively encouraged to share decision making about improving the consumer experience, safety and quality and service improvement.
Partnering with consumers, families, and community groups/organisations to design the way care and services are delivered to better meet consumers’ needs and preferences.
Consumers and the community are empowered to improve the safety and quality of health care and partner with network staff.
Consumers and researchers work in partnerships based on understanding, respect and shared commitment to research that will improve the health and wellbeing of humankind.
The health network will be open, frank and candid in the information provided, their engagement processes, use of information and feedback to consumers, families and the community.
Leadership and strong commitment to open and inclusive decision making at all levels.
Engagement influences health policy, planning and system reform.
The health network informs participants how they use inputs received through consumer and community engagement.
Measures to ensure that the policy-making process is open, transparent and amenable to external scrutiny can help increase accountability of, and trust in, the health network.
Access to Information
Consumers, family and the community have a right to access and receive information about their health and wellbeing, health services available, and opportunities for engaging with the network and its staff in a way that meets their needs, and is in a form that they can access and understand.
All consumers, families, and community groups/organisations should have equal opportunities and multiple channels to access information, to be consulted and to participate.
Information, education, and health literacy for shared decision making.
Consumers and the community are aware of their rights that a person should be entitled to:
participate effectively in decisions about his or her health, well-being and welfare
take an active role in his or her health care and in decisions about the provision of health or community services to the person;
be provided with appropriate health or community services in a considerate way that takes into account his or her background and any requirements that are reasonably necessary to ensure that he or she receives such services
be given consideration and recognition for their contribution to health care and the well-being and welfare of individuals
obtain reasonable access to records concerning his or her health or other personal information relating to the person (taking into account what is appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances of a particular case), but that otherwise the confidentiality of such information should be maintained
have access to procedures for dealing with complaints about the provision of health or community services.
Empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings, and life and health care experiences.
An understanding of what it may be like to 'walk in the consumer's shoes'.
Appreciating the context of the people who use the health network's services and the way it impacts on their care and the way care is delivered.
Recognising that people come with their own value base and are the experts of their own lives.
Staff, when communicating with consumers, need to ask, listen and validate.
Empathy is a basis of all staff - consumer interactions and is a central feature across WCHN culture and relationships.
Our award winning strategy
The WCHN believes it is important to involve community organisations in the design, monitoring, improvements and evaluation of the services we provide. If you are a not-for-profit organisation, incorporated body, governing council, small business, philanthropic body, other government department or have a group of people who would like to be associated with the Women's and Children's Health Network, you can sign up for our register.