The Community Advisory Committee plays an important role in helping to ensure we partner with our patients, consumers and the community in our planning, service delivery and improvement. 

They are a strong voice for promoting partnership with consumers in everything we do. They provide oversight and help to monitor the approach we take to consumer and community involvement across both the Royal Melbourne Hospital and NorthWestern Mental Health. They act as advocates to our Board on behalf of those who may have difficulty being heard.

The Community Advisory Committee is chaired by a member of the Melbourne Health board and has 12 positions for community members. Members are usually patients, consumers, carers and community representatives who may be future uses of the health service. Several staff members also attend.

For more information about the Community Advisory Committee, please contact Consumer Participation.

Community Board Meeting 2016 - what we heard

Participants at the Community Board Meeting 2016

On Thursday 18 August 2016, our community helped to shape our future.

Community members joined our Board, Executive team, staff and volunteers to tackle some of the big issues – some that we face now – some that we will over the coming years.

We talked about patient safety, transforming our culture, building stronger partnerships with primary care, promoting research to the community, supporting physical well-being in people with mental health conditions, supporting the mental health of those who are homeless and many more topics.

Transforming our culture

We heard that our communication could be better with patients and in our clinical teams. This is especially true at discharge - it comes down to respect. We don’t need over complicated solutions. We all need to focus on the patient – that’s what is most important. We need to ask the question “what’s the impact on the patient?” We need to recognise that sometimes it is the simple things we can do to make their stay more comfortable. We can promote change and commitment to improvement, but need to be genuine and maintain momentum to make change happen.

Involving our community in research

We heard that it would be great to let the community know about the benefits of being involved in research and how they can be involved through a campaign called “Ask me about research.” A variety of methods could be used – we could be creative with this. It would be great to demystify the role of research and answer those difficult questions.

Promoting physical wellbeing for those with chronic conditions

We heard that we need to recognise that mental health and medications effect people’s physical health and wellbeing. People can be affected by a spiral - mental health affects physical health which affects mental health.

Participants at the Community Board Meeting 2016

We need to make sure that physical health issues are part and parcel of mental health assessment and treatment.

Outpatients and primary health

We heard that it’s not always clear who is responsible for fixing up or following up on the information we send to primary health. We all need to take responsibility and communicate – working together to improve patient outcomes. We’re working together in the development of Health Pathways – this helps make it clearer where to refer and what information is needed. Other electronic systems like ECM are also helping to improve the quality of the information we provide to primary health.

The importance of stable accommodation to good health

We heard that homelessness has a big impact on health. The current lack of social housing, closure of boarding houses, increase in family violence and long waiting lists for shelters all exacerbate this problem. We need to listen more. Help our staff understand the challenges. Build better links to agencies that assist with the homeless. Preventative strategies are important – particularly in mental health services. Access to information is important. We could look into encouraging patients to use apps and our Wi-Fi on their phones.

Patient safety

We heard that patients and the community want to know what the risks and benefits of treatment are. Charts and posters that talk about how we’re doing and the safety of patients in our care can sometimes be difficult to read. It would be great to display this information in a patient friendly way.

Capturing the discussion at the Community Board Meeting 2016

Patients want to be involved in care planning. There are things we can do to support patients in managing their own health – for example using a medication record on a smart phone – perhaps this is something we could invest in in future. We need to make sure that patients and their families are listened to – for example, when they notice changes in their wellbeing this can be a sign of early deterioration and can help us identify where extra care is needed.

Planning for a new hospital and electronic medical record (EMR)

We heard that there are a lot of things we need to consider as we look to planning a new hospital. We need to keep in mind what is important to patients. Things like access to the hospital by car, bus, taxi and way finding – things like clear signage and information. We need to take time to consider lessons learnt from other redevelopments, both locally and internationally.

As we work towards an EMR, we need to ensure that patient privacy is kept at all times. Patients want to access their own information and need to be able to have faith in the quality of what is in the EMR

Have your say

If you would like to have your say, please contact Consumer Participation.