Giving older people a voice

Uniting AgeWell residentBy Rebecca Ryan

Uniting AgeWell is calling for community members in Victoria and Tasmania to get involved in senior service planning to help improve the quality of care and effectiveness of its own services and the aged care system as a whole.

Unlike public health services – which are obligated to have a formal, consumer advisory committee to provide strategic advice to their Board of Directors ­– this is not a requirement in aged care. But the Uniting AgeWell board thinks differently. The board has established the AgeWell Community Advisory Committee (ACAC) to bring the consumer perspective into its decision making and recommendations.

According to Uniting AgeWell board chair Rev Allan Thompson, the organisation is leading the way by establishing the ACAC as a formal committee of its board.

“While consumer advisory committees operate in hospitals and health care environments, they are unique in aged care. To my knowledge, Uniting AgeWell is one of the first to establish such a committee,” Mr Thompson said.

“Our community advisory committee will be a true consumer voice driving strategy for quality of care and service delivery. The role of the committee is critically important. It’s a way for us to engage with our clients and the broader community on how we deliver and improve our services and plan for the future.

“We want to hear first-hand the concerns, aspirations and ideas of the community. It’s through these insights we will ensure our services continue to support people to age well and have confidence in the quality of care and services they receive.”

Uniting AgeWell is currently seeking expressions of interest from people who want to work actively with other consumers and in partnership with Uniting AgeWell to join the committee, which will meet quarterly from July. Committee member selection will aim to achieve a mix of geographic location, age, gender and social and cultural diversity.

According to Mr Thompson, this volunteer role is suited to people who are able to present the perspectives of others, rather than focus on their own issues, and be conscious of the collective impact decisions have on other service users.

“They work as an advisory committee to our board and are essential partners in the delivery of safe, high quality care for everyone.

“People don’t have to be experienced in consumer committee participation. We will provide a comprehensive two-day induction and orientation program as well as free formal training through the Health Issues Centre for appointed members. We will also pay for their transport expenses to attend meetings.

“This is an exciting opportunity for people to get involved and shape the future of senior services,” he said.

Information sessions will be held in Hobart on 19 February and in Kew on 24 February.  To find out more or to register, call Nickie Arthur on (03) 9862 0076.
Expressions of interest to join the AgeWell Community Advisory Committee close on 29 February; Download an EOI information pack at unitingagewell.org

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