During February and March 2023, Senior Engagement Advisor, Jo Smethurst and Engagement Advisors, Reema Naresh and Chelsea Gourgaud travelled to Mackay, Rockhampton and Cairns to facilitate tailored braining for Hospital and Health Service consumers, Executive and Board which meets their individual partnering needs.

Chelsea headed to Rockhampton to support staff and consumers and co-facilitate the Consumer and Community Advisory Committee Planning Day with Central Queensland’s Hospital and Health Service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Executive Director, Donna Cruickshank and Patient Experience and Consumer Engagement Practice Lead, Stacey Butler. 

This was an exciting opportunity to listen to the CQHHS’s Chief Executive, Dr Emma McCahon’s strategic direction and priorities for the year on how and where the Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) will be involved to amplify the voices of Central Queensland through the CAC. Board Chair Paul Bell, also spoke of the Board’s commitment and value of hearing from the CAC to improve service delivery across the region.  

Chelsea ran a highly interactive session to support participants to develop a shared understanding about what a strategic consumer representative looks like and what skills are needed for a strategic CAC to run. The workshop focused on brainstorming what are the skills and knowledge to be strategic. These included:   

  • Good communication skills 
  • Flexibility 
  • Being able to speak up 
  • Feeling comfortable, confident and informed 
  • Being able to be involved at different levels 
  • Being provided with opportunities 
  • Well connected and networked 

There was also time to look back and reflect on the CCAC’s learnings across COVID and ways of working to inform visioning for the future to strengthen partnerships with the HHS, and continuously improve how the CAC works into the future.      

Reema was delighted to be back at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service at the end of February to work with staff and consumers.

It was great to see such involved and enthusiastic staff and consumers and there was a fantastic turn-out for our tailored Fundamentals of Consumer Partnerships training. We also initiated a staff networking session for all staff involved in engagement. It was the first time some of these staff members had met each other and some important seeds for future collaboration were planted.  

Reema also contributed to the orientation of new consumers on their Consumer Advisory Group. It was a great opportunity to enable the new CAG members to clarify their role as a health consumer in their health system and Reema made sure there were experienced consumers present who they could network with for ongoing peer support.  

Jo spent two days in Mackay and ran two half day workshops with new and current consumers on the Hospital and Health Service’s Consumer Advisory Partners and Maternity Community Reference Group.  In addition to these two workshops, two one-hour sessions were held for staff from the Women’s Health Unit on strengthening consumer partnerships.

A fifth session was held for members of the Executive Leadership Team and other senior staff and delivered virtually by HCQ’s CEO. This was an opportunity for senior leaders to discuss how they are partnering with consumers and their plans to strengthen these partnerships.