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We have big health challenges in western Sydney. We need to understand the needs of our people. Our people need to understand what and where to get the services they need.
Working together involves new ways of doing our business. It involves listening to and learning from our communities so that together, we create health services that deliver what people want and need to help them get and stay healthy.
Our consumers are sometimes called "health consumers". Think of this term as meaning a health service user.
A consumer may have been a patient, or could in the future be a patient. They may be a carer (often an unpaid family member or loved one) of a previous or current patient.
Across Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) we have consumers who have undertaken training and have gone through a rigorous recruitment process to position them to work with staff in collaboration.
We talk more about this in the next section.
This Consumer Representative position description was developed from best practice and in collaboration with the WSLHD Consumer Council.
“Community” refers to groups of people or organisations with shared local or regional interest in health. These groups of people may be interested because they live in a particular place, have a particular cultural background, religion or language.
Groups may also be formal organisations interested in specific diseases such as cancer or diabetes. Examples of community organisations include the Red Cross, the Cancer Council, Diabetes NSW or Chronic Pain Australia.
Engagement means working together as partners to understand each other’s point of view. We deliberately look for ways to work together as easily and as systematically as possible with the aim of improving health care for people needing it.
People in western Sydney can give as much time as they wish. This can be from receiving updates from health services, right up to developing a deep relationship over time and becoming fully trained to be able to interact with staff at the highest levels to help them see things from a consumer’s point of view. This is where we become partners, where trust is built, control and decisions are shared. It takes time and training.
Clinicians and health staff often use language which they take for granted. Often these are abbreviations of groups of words. These terms are called acronyms.
The use of acronyms can be a barrier to understanding the discussion from a health consumer's point of view.
Our Community and Consumer Engagement team has put together a list of commonly used acronyms and terms in health.