Authors: Paula Arro
Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: The Brisbane North Primary Health Network (PHN) has used its new role for commissioning mental health, suicide prevention, alcohol and other drug services as a challenge to take consumer and carer involvement to the next level. This presentation is a snapshot of how—guided by its comprehensive Consumer and Carer Engagement Strategy—it has built on and embedded consumers and carers in co-design throughout the commissioning cycle. Central to the PHN’s approach is its peer participation network. Part think-tank, part network, every meeting is driven by the things the participants want to hear more about. Guest speakers, discussion spots, and service highlights are mashed up with generous feedback time so everyone has a chance to contribute and have their voice heard. The network has also been directly responsible for initiating and showcasing the range of opportunities it has opened up to consumers and carers. These are in two areas. The first directly supports consumers and carers to develop their own skill-base via scholarship, sponsorship and subsidy initiatives. So far, this has included giving 25 participants the opportunity to complete Mental Health First Aid certificates at no cost. This training was delivered by people with lived experience. A scholarship program was also undertaken with 10 successful applicants to undertake the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work and Mental Health nationally recognized qualifications. As a direct result of this initiative, students have gained employment, volunteer and consumer/carer representative positions in mental health services across the region. The second area supports consumers and carers to become involved in strategic and organisational development. Initially sitting on the PHN’s Partners In Recovery (PiR) Governance Committee, this has since extended to include becoming lived-experience evaluators of PiR funded services, along with sitting as equal members on numerous tender assessment panels to deliberate and action the future direction of services. And all this within one year! As the network continues to grow, this presentation is a dynamic reflection of the enthusiasm of its consumer and carer members, learnings and growth of a PHN in embracing C&C participation and a showcase of what’s possible when they are challenged to become active partners in the services that affect them. The presentation will also share how consumer and carers will be actively participating in new mental health, suicide prevention and alcohol and other drug services into the future.