Consultant consumer representatives to provide patient insights

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Patient-centred care is at the heart of North Eastern Rehabilitation Centre’s healthcare provision with a staff focus on providing the best patient experience possible

Effective engagement and communication with patients is a critical element for North Eastern Rehabilitation Centre (NERC) in providing a transparent healthcare service for not only the patients but their families and carers, this empowers patients to have a greater say in the planning, delivery and evaluation of care and services whilst being treated at NERC.

Focusing on their patient-first approach, the NERC management team recognised the benefits in partnering consultant consumer representatives who could provide insight into the hospital from a patient’s perspective.

The NERC management team wanted to ensure they engaged the right mix of people who had not only the willingness and capacity to undertake such a voluntary role, but also had been a past or current patient of NERC or another rehabilitation facility.

NERC is a 46-bed hospital located in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The hospital provides rehabilitation for trauma, spinal injury, neurological/stroke, orthopaedic, respiratory, chronic pain management, neurosurgical and restorative/reconditioning.

Finding the right person meant utilising a local network to source potential candidates. In the end there were five applicants who undertook the recruitment process of which two candidates were offered the position – Ken Riding and Maureen Hanley, both former patients of NERC.

The role of a consultant consumer representative incorporates many areas, including being active members of the Quality and Marketing Committees, as well as being required to review any new or amended publications. Another key focus is their liaison with current patients.

According to Mr Riding, “The knowledge I have acquired at NERC has been enriching and based on feedback from management, my contributions to the hospital have been equally beneficial. It is important to realise that NERC is not a five-star hotel, but a rehabilitation hospital – patients are not here for a holiday but for the fantastic care and services. Getting that balance right is what we hope to achieve.”

Ms Hanley adds, “Being a consultant consumer representative is different from what I expected as I have been quite involved in operational activities. This has given me quite the insight into how a hospital runs. Being a member of the NERC Quality Committee has been very interesting, my comments or suggestions are always well heard and I look forward to my continued involvement in 2014.”

Suggestions from NERC’s consultant consumer representatives include:

• Placing additional items on the breakfast menu

• Raising the height of the garden beds to better facilitate garden therapy

• Installing Wi-Fi so patients and their visitors can access free internet

• Provision of larger flat screen TV’s positioned at a preferred height for viewing

• Creation of an additional single room with ensuite

By Simon Keating

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