Monday, June 12, 2017

Health Consumers Queensland Annual Forum 2017


I recently attended the annual forum of Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ). It was held in Townsville, in North Queensland. The theme of the forum was Power and Passion: Culture Change through Consumer Empowerment and Partnerships.

Th team and HCQ will make videos, transcripts, and visual presentations from all sessions available soon.

Over the day I took notes and am posting my thoughts and take away messages in a series of blog posts.

Mark Tucker Evans, Chair, HCQ
The forum opened with a welcome to attendees and acknowledged the Hospital and Health Services (HHS) who supported consumers to attend as well as staff from HSS’s, Primary Health Networks, the Department of Health, a range of non-government organisations and private services. He thanked the consumers and carers on the reference group who developed the program. He reflected that there was a rich and diverse range of participants which would add value to the day. Mark said: "the Forum is about exploring opportunities for meaningful consumer engagement and demonstrations of how it changes culture of organisations and improves the delivery of patient centred care".
Mark also reflected that the Minister launched the Queensland Advancing Health 2026 at the inaugural forum in 2016 and would be at the forum today to give a report on achievement in the past 12 months.

Professor Gracelyn Smallwood – conducted the welcome to country and reflected on 50 years of working in th healh sector, as a nurse including her training and now being involved in training others.

Reflecting on closing the gap she said: “We all have to come together in a collaborative approach, public sector, non-government sector and corporate private sector and then we can move mountains.” Prof Smallwood was also very clear that “A tripartite approach is needed to close the gap. Not paternalism, it’s not about equality, it’s about equity.”

Melissa Fox, Chief Executive Officer
Melissa Fox introduced a short session highlighting the work of the HCQ.  HCQ began in 2008 initially as a Ministerial Advisory Committee. With the funding of the Queensland Government in the past few years they have been able to deepen the work they do in supporting strong consumer participation. The Board and staff of HCQ recognise that the Government has invested heavily in establishing the organisation. They received a three year funding $2.6m in 2015 over three years. Melissa introduced each staff member and they each spent a a few minutes talking about their work, reflecting on highlights and challenges in the past two years since they came a funded organisation.

Jo Sherring, Lin Hinspeter (consumer) – Raising health staff awareness about health literacy issues – impact of a consumer video on staff perceptions of health literacy. Townsville HHS

Jo Sherring is Clinical Lead for Townsville HHS. Lin is a retired nurse and consumer rep. They have been working to raise awareness of the importance of health literacy in the planning and delivery of heath care.

Staff truly believe they are communicating well and that patients have knowledge and understanding but this is not always the case. With this in mind the patient information and Health Literacy group at the Townsville Hospital decided to make a video for patients and their families on te difficulty of understanding medical information.
  • ·        Consumers and carers were given common medical terms and asked to describe what it meant. Words included: triage, NUM, observations, oedemema, consultant, diuretic, titrate, intravenous, handover, multidisciplinary, analgesic, UTI, femur, hypertension, coronary, evidence based, self-care.
  • ·      They were also asked what was it they would like health staff to know and to understand about them to improve their care.

The video has been shown in staff orientation, during Heatlh Literacy week and in staff training.

The key messages were excellent:
  • It’s not our job to know your language. It’s your job to help us understand. Use plain language with everyone people can’t take care of their health if they can’t understanding it. How you provide information to us is important.
  • There are lots of words and includes description and diagnose that is communicated quickly and we don’t; have enough time to process it. And we don’t always know the right questions to ask.
  • Make sure the message you give is the message received. When a person is anxious they do not always here very well and it is easy to misinterpret.



Darlene Cox
Executive Director

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