Friday, December 21, 2012

Season's Greetings

Please click on the below image to see our Christmas Greetings

Consumer Representatives 2012 End of Year Celebration

What a year it has been! The HCCA Consumer Representatives Program (CRP) commemorated the successes of the program and the Consumer Representatives who have worked tirelessly throughout the year with an end of year celebration on Wednesday 12 December 2012 at the sunny Griffith Neighbourhood Hall. We were lucky to share the day with many of our colleagues and friends. 

Consumer Representatives who were sponsored by HCCA to attend a conference during the year were given the opportunity to make a brief presentation of the most interesting points they learned at their event and answer questions from the audience. Throughout the year, HCCA sponsored 22 different Consumer Representatives to attend 12 events to improve their ability to represent consumers in their field of interest.
As a result of our CRP Review, the membership of the CRP Steering Committee has changed. HCCA thanked the outgoing Steering Committee for their dedication to the committee and their integral role in developing the CRP over the years. The outgoing Steering Committee have made 59 endorsements of Consumer Representatives to committees this year, as well as helping us shape the CRP through the development of organisational policy. They have met every challenge with rationality and a great sense of humour and we would like to thank them for their time and commitment to improving our CRP. The new CRP Steering Committee members were introduced and we look forward to working with them in the coming year.

Bill Heins made a presentation to remind us all that change happens slowly, and that we can all make a difference with perseverance and passion. To wrap up the formalities of the day, Roger Killeen presented light-hearted awards to Consumer Representatives for their commitment to ensure the consumer voice is heard and heeded within the health system here in the ACT. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been involved in the Consumer Representatives Program over the year for the many emails, phone conversations, meetings and passing comments that have helped the program grow over 2012. We look forward to working with you all to meet the challenges of 2013 and wish you all safe holidays and a very happy new year.

Caitlin Stamford 
Consumer Representatives Program Assistant 

Advance Care Planning

On Tuesday 20 November 2012, HCCA was host to an information session run by Respecting Patient Choices to promote the importance of Advanced Care Planning in the ACT. The session covered why advanced care planning is vital to protect our wishes, how an Advanced Care Plan can do this and how to properly complete an Advanced Care Plan. 

In the ACT, the Respecting Patient Choices Program encourages discussion among loved ones, rather than focusing on ticking boxes on paper. Advanced care can often be a difficult subject to raise but it is vital we discuss our wishes with our loved ones to alleviate the stress and pain of having to make choices about our healthcare if they are unsure of our wishes. End of life and medical emergencies can be a time of crises for our family and friends and can cause conflict. An Advanced Care Plan can help relieve this strain on them and the health professionals who make decisions about our care. 

Having a voice in our own health care throughout our life is an important step to being in control of the care we receive. In the ACT, the Advanced Care Plan allows us to record our wishes should there be a time where we are unable to communicate them effectively to those around us. The Advanced Care Plan allows for three different ways to communicate how we would like to be treated: the Enduring Power of Attorney, the Statement of Choices and the Health Direction. 

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint another person or persons to make decisions on your behalf. An attorney can be anyone over the age of 18. In the ACT, there are different types of EPA and you can allocate different people to those roles. For example, you may want a different attorney for your financial interests than your attorney for your medical interests. It is important to choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes as this document will give them the power to speak on your behalf. 

Communication between you and your attorney/s is vital to ensure everyone is aware of what you want. A Statement of Choices (competent person / incompetent person) is a useful record of your particular wishes in certain situations. This document allows for more detail than the Enduring Power of Attorney, and although it is not legally binding it can be a very useful guide for your EPA when choosing what type of care you will receive if you are unable to communicate. When completing a Statement of Choices it is important to communicate clearly when you would like to receive or not receive particular treatment. For example, ‘I would like to receive CPR if I will be able to speak to others when I wake up’ is a much clearer direction then ‘I would like to receive CPR if I will be able to go back to the way I was’. 

A Health Direction is a legally binding document used when you are still competent and able to communicate to legally cease treatment.    

Regardless of your views on the care you wish to receive, it is vital to communicate them to those around you. The Advanced Care Plan in the ACT allows you to do this effectively and in a legally binding manner and encourages discussion between you and those who will be ultimately responsible for your health care.

If you would like more information about Advance Care Planning, visit the Respecting Patient Choices Website. 

Caitlin Stamford
Consumer Representatives Program Assistant 

Monday, November 26, 2012

HCCA AGM 2012 President’s Report

Adele with HCCA staff Nicole and Heather

This year is my fourth and final year as President of the Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA) of the ACT.  During the past four years, our organisation has made a significant impact by providing respected, informed and strong consumer input to influence the development of quality health services in the ACT.

I am proud that we continue to consolidate our position as the peak body representing health consumers in the region.  The strength of our membership and our committed and passionate consumer representatives are pivotal to the achievements of HCCA and I sincerely thank them and all our members for their active involvement, keen interest and support.
I would like to begin by reflecting on some of the significant changes and achievements HCCA has seen over these past four years. 
In 2009, HCCA moved from the Community Centre in Pearce to ACT Sports House in Hackett. This increased office space for staff and gave us much needed, and indeed, much used, rooms for training and meetings.

Since that move, HCCA staff numbers have almost doubled.  This is due to an increase in funding, but also to the larger number of part-time staff.  We have gone from a staff of 7 in 2008 to 12 staff members today.

HCCA’s active participation on committees within the ACT has increased from 58 committees in 2008 to 93 committees as at 30 June 2012. 

Increased funding to employ staff to ensure that consumers have input into the Health Infrastructure Program.

We have established two Consumer Reference Groups for ehealth and Cancer Services. These groups are convened monthly and bring together consumers and staff from the Heath Directorate and other organisations together to work through issues. I would like to thank Russell McGowan and Sally Saunders for their work in convening these groups.

These Reference Groups play a very important role in providing consumer input into development of health policies and we are considering establishing other groups around Primary Health Care and Aged Care.

We have entered into a new partnership with the University of Canberra to work on a number of research projects and are also working with the Uni in supporting ways to increase clinical placements of students in aged care.

We continue to hold a Health Issues Group every two months, providing fora for discussion about a variety of topical health issues.

The demand for consumer input on policies continues to increase. During this financial year, we completed 18 submissions, compared with 11 in the previous period.

Health literacy is the cornerstone of consumer empowerment and plays a significant role in delivering better health outcomes for individuals and the broader community.  The HCCA Health Literacy Program develops the expertise of health consumers to actively engage with health care systems and health professionals to make informed decisions about their own and their family’s health.

From a financial perspective, I am pleased to report that HCCA continues to operate within a sound financial base.  Equity is currently $141,614 as we enter the final year of our three year funding round with Health Directorate.  This equity has allowed us to introduce a consumer scholarship program and undertake the review of the Consumer Representatives Program.

I firmly believe the strength of our membership and the significance of our combined voice has cemented our excellent reputation today as the peak advocacy organisation for health care consumers in the ACT, which will enable us to deliver quality input to these important policies.

I sincerely thank all of our consumer representatives and members for their active involvement, their empowering support and their engaged interest. 

I thank my fellow Executive Committee Members for their commitment, energy and vision over the past year and, on behalf of all our members and the Executive Committee, I deeply thank our outstanding Executive Director, Darlene Cox, and her very capable and professional team for all their hard work during this challenging and productive year.

My thanks to Marion Reilly, who is leaving the Executive Committee after 13 years; I am delighted she will continue her active involvement with HCCA and I hope she continues her recovery from her recent illness.

And my thanks to Russell McGowan for his truly valuable contribution, over many years, as a member of the Executive Committee, where he has served as President for 10 years, Vice President and member.  He is stepping down from the Committee at the end of this term, but I know he will maintain his close association with HCCA.    

While I step down from the position of President I will continue to be an active member of the HCCA to advance consumer interests in our health system.

I have been honoured to hold the position of President for 3 years and I thank you all for your support to me personally, during that time.

Adele Stevens
Health Care Consumers' Association President 2008 - 2012

HCCA Annual General Meeting 2012

HCCA’s Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 15 November at 5:00pm in the Drawing Room at University House. It was a magnificent event with a very strong turnout and I would like to thank to all attendees for their time and participation.
Ngunnawal Elder, Aunty Agnes Shea welcomes us all to Country
Professor Sharon Friel from the Australian National University gave a very informative and captivating speech about how public policy can reduce health inequalities experienced in our community. Professor Friel’s speech and presentation can be viewed on our website.
Professor Sharon Friel

Adele Stevens gave her last report as president. Adele has been the president of Health Care Consumers’ Association for four years and we have greatly appreciated her significant commitment to the organisation. Adele’s full report is available in the Annual Report and the speech she gave at the AGM will be posted to our blog.

Our outgoing President thanked Russell McGowan and Marion Reilly for their contribution to the Executive Committee, who have both stepped down from their positions. Although they are no longer on the Executive Committee, I am sure they will continue to be very active members within the organisation.

As part of the organisational business undertaken at the meeting, HCCA elected its new Executive Committee. The Executive Committee for the next year is as follows:

  • President: Sue Andrews (term ends 2014) 
  •  Vice-President: Adele Stevens (term ends 2014) 
  •  Treasurer: Bev McConnell (term ends 2013)
  • General Members: Therese Findlay, Sharon Eacott, Caroline Polak Scowcroft, David Lovegrove (term ends 2013), Michelle Banfield and Bill Heins (term ends 2014)
Our new Executive Committee

I look forward to working with the new Committee in the coming year.

Darlene Cox
Executive Director