Consumers help drive Emergency Department improvements

A group photograph of clinicians and consumers
The Emergency Department Consumer Advisory Group are helping to drive improvements.
March 20, 2018

A group of consumers is supporting the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) Emergency Department (ED) to facilitate improvements – and it’s the only group of its kind in WA.

Established in late 2016, the FSH ED Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) consists of six consumers and four clinicians who undertake projects in response to feedback and the needs of patients, carers and families.

Each representative has had a personal experience with an emergency department as a consumer and no prior experience working in health, which means they are able to offer a fresh approach to problem-solving.

So far, the CAG has been involved in enhancing the triage experience for patients and carers, and developing a FAQ leaflet for next of kin.

ED CAG Chair Jane Pearce said the triage project developed simple and low-cost measures to improve the experiences for patients and visitors in ED.

“Triage and waiting rooms are unfamiliar and can be a high-stress situation for anyone,” Jane said.

“To help improve this experience, the solution was to provide more information about the triage and waiting process as well as improve the waiting room environment.

“Out of 22 suggested improvement recommendations, 19 were implemented.”

ED consultant Tom Hitchcock who instigated the dedicated ED CAG, said it was new ground for emergency medicine where change and improvement have traditionally been based on clinical need.

“We were keen to explore new drivers for maintaining and improving our service, so developing our own community advisory group was a natural step,” he said.

“The group review our performance and provide feedback and advice from the consumer’s viewpoint.”

With a number of other projects currently underway, Tom credits the consumer’s enthusiasm for the progress made so far.

Jane believes that it’s a win for both the health service providers and consumers.

“There is a lot of mystique around health, with many consumers finding it difficult to ask questions, challenge doctors and nurses, or even make informed decisions about their own health,” she said.

“The more consumers get involved, the more potential there is for them to better understand their own health and to engage productively with health providers.”