COVID-19 Response

At Health Consumers Queensland we have never seen the health system work this hard and this collaboratively to care for its consumers.

The challenges for Health Consumers Queensland and Queensland Health mean we need to work closely together to ensure consumers are brought in at the right time to influence plans, and public-facing communications and directives.

Here we update you on the latest work with consumers and staff and share how consumer input is impacting how Queensland Health is supporting and informing Queenslanders around COVID-19.

Join the COVID-19 Community of Interest

Health Consumers Queensland has been having regular video-based Consumer Conversations about the Queensland public health system’s response to COVID-19 with groups of health consumers and carers across the state. To take part in these Conversations, join our COVID-19 Community of Interest

Groundbreaking appointment of consumer representatives to Queensland Health Tier 2 Committees

Health Consumers Queensland is delighted to announce that, for the first time in our public health system’s history, consumers are sitting across almost all the key governance committees in the Department of Health (known as Tier 2 System Advisory Committees).

Eight out of the nine committees have representation from consumers, clinicians and First Nations people as well as an organisational representative from Health Consumers Queensland. The System Management Advisory Committee is the only exception, with a decision by the Chairs to have clinicians and First Nations people on the Tier 2 committee, and consumers on their Tier 3 sub-committees.

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eAlert: A marathon not a sprint

Do you remember back in April, when Annastacia Palaszczuk was telling Queenslanders that containing COVID-19 was going to be “a marathon, not a sprint”?  Fast forward to the last few weeks in August, we are watching what is unfolding in Victoria and New South Wales, continuing to have concerning cases appear in Queensland and coming to accept that this is not all going to be ‘all over by Christmas’.

Indeed, one consumer remarked how people keep talking about ‘’post-COVID”, when really we all need to be focusing on how the health system and consumers can be supported to maintain and access regular health services and care, alongside sustaining a constant state of readiness for COVID-19 outbreaks, care and containment.

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A COVID-19 vaccine: What would help you decide?

A vaccine for COVID-19 remains keenly anticipated by many Australians as a way of releasing us from ongoing restrictions and protecting us from infection outbreaks.
According to peer-reviewed research published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal, a vaccination rate of 80% is needed to ensure herd immunity to COVID-19.  A motivated population is clearly vital to an immunisation programme’s success, yet the scale, urgency and unknowns of such a programme are causing concern to some health consumers as they consider choosing to have a vaccine if and when one becomes available.

Consumer engagement in Victoria and NSW during COVID-19: Lessons learned

Here in Queensland, Health Consumers Queensland is uniquely positioned to amplify the consumer voice. We are fortunate to work with a Government, health department and health services that welcome consumer engagement and values the consumer voice.  Importantly, this commitment is matched by action, not just lip service, with consumer/HCQ participation facilitated at almost every level of decision making in health, and our organization being funded to pivot our work to support the response to COVID-19.
While this engagement and action has by no means been perfect and in every part of the system, it has been this openness by those in the health system to listen to consumers and act, which has set our State’s response apart from the majority of the rest we heard at this week’s Consumer Conversation.

eAlert: Communicating effectively with residents and families

Following the lockdown of residential aged care facilities across South Brisbane and in the Moreton Bay region last week, Health Consumers Queensland and a consortium of six NGOs (including COTA Queensland, Queenslanders with Disability Network, ADA Australia, Palliative Care Queensland and CarersQLD) co-designed a single checklist and provided a series of resources to enable residential care facilities to communicate effectively with residents and families during an outbreak.

As part of this work, Jo Smethurst facilitated a training session to help facility managers understand the importance of communicating well when/if COVID-19 impacts their facility, and develop a comprehensive communications plan to enable them to be responsive to the individual needs of residents and families. This training session was part of a week-long training series led by the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in Queensland Health.

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eAlert: Addressing the barriers to COVID-19 testing

Queensland’s best defences against a sustained outbreak of COVID-19 via community transmission are quarantine, border controls, testing and contact tracing.

Ahead of reports of new cases of COVID-19 in Brisbane this week, 21 consumers had already joined forces with Department and health staff, Queenslanders with Disability Network and Palliative Care Queensland at a Consumer Conversation on Tuesday to share their views on the top barriers to testing and what can be done to address these and encourage more people to get tested.

During the conversation, it was clear that consumers are looking for a clear and unambiguous testing pathway which is convenient, supportive, nuanced and needs-focused. Yet fear, uncertainty, confusion, misinterpretation and complacency are rife.

Specifically, consumers identified the following ongoing barriers to testing:

  • Difficulty interpreting advice about symptoms
  • Unclear testing pathways
  • The logistics of having a test and managing the consequences are too complicated and overwhelming
  • The need to self-isolate (for several days in rural areas) while awaiting results
  • Pain and trauma associated with testing
  • Perceived lack of social responsibility amongst certain groups of people
  • Fear of stigma and retribution if people do test positive

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eAlert: New grant funding underpins our consumer-focused COVID initiatives

New grant funding underpins our consumer-focused COVID-19 initiatives​

Health Consumers Queensland has been successful in securing grant funding from Queensland Health to support our continued COVID-19 service provision. As one of more than 130 community-based health service groups across Queensland sharing in more than $30 million, the grant will help Health Consumers Queensland to continue the delivery of a number of consumer-focused initiatives.

This additional funding will support:

  • continued consultation with consumers on planning for continued and future pandemic situations
  • a new project to engage with young health consumers about their experiences during COVID-19 pandemic (check out the
  • opportunity to join our Youth Reference Group in this eAlert​)
  • evaluation of the strong engagement approach taken by Health Consumers Queensland and Queensland Health during COVID-19.

We are so pleased to be able to continue to support the vital voice of consumers during this time.​

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eAlert: Consumer Conversations are back!

Consumer Conversations are back and they’re better than ever!

Consumer Conversations have made a welcome return this week and it was wonderful to see you all again on Zoom on Tuesday.

For this series, we have brought together our experienced and emerging consumer groups so the COVID-19 Community of Interest has joined up with the Health Consumers Queensland’s Consumer Advisory Group, the Health Consumers Collaborative of Queensland, the Primary Health Networks and the consumers who sit on Statewide Clinical Networks.

Conversations will now be held every fortnight rather than once a week.

These valuable sessions will continue to provide consumers the opportunity to share your lived experience on topical health issues with the group and with Queensland Health. In response to your helpful feedback, we’ve also added a short informative presentation at the beginning of each session to enable you to build your skills and knowledge around consumer engagement.

This week we explored: How to tell your story with impact. Many people become active as health consumers due to a significant experience with the health system. Telling the story of your healthcare journey effectively can be a powerful tool in your consumer kit.

We hope you enjoy this new format and please continue to share your feedback with us as the series continues.

If you’d like to join the Consumer Conversations, please register here. The next presentation will focus on some tips and strategies that help to communicate your message with impact.

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eAlert – Looking Back: How effective was Queensland’s COVID-19 response?

As we mentioned in last week’s eAlert, in the most recent Consumer Conversation we asked consumers for their reaction to the COVID-19 response from Queensland Health, and from us, Health Consumers Queensland. We were very pleased to hear that consumers were satisfied with Queensland Health’s response. Particularly compared to other states, consumers felt that Queensland Health has done very well to involve consumers to such a high degree, to listen and act on their views and concerns. Suggestions for improvement included greater attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, greater reach into the regions, and better communication and especially with culturally and linguistically diverse people and communities.

Consumers were overwhelmingly positive about the COVID-19 response from Health Consumers Queensland, with many feeling that the COVID-19 Community of Interest gave consumers the opportunity to have their voices heard, and gave them the information they needed to support themselves, their families and their communities. Importantly, consumers saw the influence they had on Queensland Health and were mindful of how unique that is in Australia.

 

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