If you get the structure right, it should be a win-win for everybody. No one loses in that situation. The consumer comes out having made a real contribution. The people around them feel encouraged and stimulated knowing that there’s a better outcome at the end of the day for that project and for the people who will benefit from it.
—Lyn Swinburne, consumer, Founding CEO Breast Cancer Network Australia
Consumer involvement across all aspects of a health service provides the opportunity for enormous improvements and benefits to all parties. But if it is to be successful—like any large and sustained project leading to lasting change that makes a difference—it requires active and ongoing executive leadership.
Executive commitment is important in allocation of financial and human resources. But that leadership is equally important in setting relevant policies and priorities, including embedding consumer involvement in your organisation’s vision and strategy. For many health professionals, involving consumers will be a relatively new and possibly challenging prospect.
The best way to achieve widespread acceptance among staff is through consistent and clear executive leadership, inspiration and support.
‘Whether you’re doing research, providing clinical care, or developing policy, the end user and the end result is going to be consumers. Unless we have a clear idea of their needs, we can never optimise those programs. It’s an essential core element of feedback and understanding.’
—Jim Bishop, Executive Director, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
Read more about consumer involvement from Jim Bishop, an Executive Director.
How can I support consumer involvement?
Active and ongoing executive leadership is essential. Some of the initial fundamentals are:
- Commit a staff resource to lead consumer engagement.
- Make certain you find the right person to lead the work.
- Agree to a budget for consumer training and other essential expenditures.
Find out how committed your organisation is, in involving consumers by working through this brief checklist. Committed organisations checklist
Is my organisation committed to working with consumers?
The Framework provides examples of possible areas for involving consumers. A significant part of consumer engagement is understanding and being explicit about the role consumers are expected to fulfil.