Evaluation requires an honest look not only at what you are actually doing with consumers but also reviewing which consumer activities are working and which aren’t. Can an ineffective activity be improved? If so, work closely with staff and consumers through education or system change. If not, stop it. Consumer involvement that is ineffective, poorly managed or where there’s a skill mismatch can be damaging for the consumer and for future efforts.
Developing a consumer engagement program requires ongoing evaluation. Monitor your progress by conducting regular review.
Evaluations can be internal or external and you will need to decide if you want to do this in-house, or engage an external consultant. You may decide to allocate funding for an external evaluation which has the advantage of being totally independent.
Ideally, the evaluation process will involve both consumers and staff. Remember to invite consumers early in the process and remember to let them know the results of the evaluation.
In addition to all of this, consumer engagement is now an essential element of accreditation and reporting at both state and national levels.