Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Realisation of a joint consumer engagement strategy in the Nepean Blue Mountains region

Ilse Blignault A B E , Diana Aspinall C , Lizz Reay C and Kay Hyman D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.

B School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C Wentworth Healthcare Limited, PO Box 903, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.

D Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, PO Box 63, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: i.blignault@westernsydney.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health - https://doi.org/10.1071/PY16103
Submitted: 18 August 2016  Accepted: 30 November 2016   Published online: 15 February 2017

Abstract

Ensuring consumer engagement at different levels of the health system – direct care, organisational design and governance and policy – has become a strategic priority. This case study explored, through interviews with six purposively selected ‘insiders’ and document review, how one Medicare Local (now a Primary Health Network, PHN) and Local Health District worked together with consumers, to establish a common consumer engagement structure and mechanisms to support locally responsive, integrated and consumer-centred services. The two healthcare organisations worked as partners across the health system, sharing ownership and responsibility. Critical success factors included a consumer champion working with other highly motivated consumers concerned with improving the health system, a budget, and ongoing commitment from the Medicare Local or PHN and the Local Health District at executive and board level. Shared boundaries were an enormous advantage. Activities were jointly planned and executed, with consumer participation paramount. Training and mentoring enhanced consumer capacity and confidence. Bringing everyone on board and building on existing structures required time, effort and resources. The initiative produced immediate and lasting benefits, with consumer engagement now embedded in organisational governance and practice.


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