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How do you make your ward the most popular in the hospital? Getting to know the end user is a good start, according to Kelsie Dummett.

Kelsie is one of the founding members of Mater Youth Consultancy, Mater Hospital’s initiative to design better services for patients making the transition from paediatric care to adult health services. Mater Youth Consultancy (MYC) was founded in 2013 in recognition of the poorer health outcomes for people in those transition years.

As the Manager of the Mater Young Adult Health Centre (MAYHC), Greg McGahan, explained, this 16 to 25 year age group need support for more than just their physical health problems. In order to fully engage in their health care, young people need holistic emotional and educational support.

Occupying the building formerly housing the Mater Children’s Hospital, the Mater Young Adult Health Centre was designed hand-in-hand with young people from the start. MYHC worked closely with Mater Youth Consultancy, a group of 14 young people, some of whom had lived experiences of health care, some local students, and also a small group from the local refugee community.

This group has worked collaboratively with the Mater’s marketing department to get the look and feel of branding and patient information just right. Even the furnishings throughout the entire Centre have been chosen by MYC, making sure it’s a welcoming place for young people coming in for care. For Kelsie Dummett, these details make a huge difference. The design of the space, along with areas for physical activity, social gatherings, and a good wifi connection, makes MYHC a place that young people can relax in. Kelsie, who lives with auto inflammatory disease, describes her first hospital visits as bleak and confusing, so she’s very motivated to make the hospital environment as welcoming as possible. And the MYC experience has been rewarding for her personally. She’s learned a range of professional skills that she’s taken into her university studies, and it’s increased her confidence as well.

Greg says that while there has been great work done, there is still a long way to go. The Mater wants to move beyond consulting with consumers to working with consumers in an integrated way: involvement in staff recruitment, program development, and making more meaningful connections between consumer groups within the hospital.

The initiative is certainly paying off: the Young Adult Ward has the highest consumer satisfaction rating of all Mater wards, and satisfaction with nursing care is 15% higher than any other ward, a fantastic result that hopefully inspires other health services to more fully engage with their health consumers.

Like to know more? Listen to Kelsie Dummett and Greg McGahan’s full presentation on Soundcloud, or view their presentation slides.

This is only one inspiring presentation from the Health Consumer Queensland 2016 Annual Forum – see them all here.