More voices of health consumers needed

24 November 2017

Consumer rep

Spending most of his day with people involved with mental health services has given Guy Baker a really good understanding of what people in distress need.

He regularly hears about how our health services could be improved. He is employed by Te Kupenga Net Trust as a Consumer Leader. This is a role that sees him involved with health organisations such as Hauora Tairāwhiti down to small groups of people who access mental health services.

“Because of my local, regional and national networks, I get to hear stories about our mental health services at the coal face. This is the perspective I bring to the decision-making groups that I sit on. It is important that the voices and needs of people, who the services are there to help, are considered along with all the financial and clinical aspects of decision-making. If it doesn’t work for the consumer it probably is a waste of time. “

Guy has been a Consumer Leader for the last two years and wished he had branched out into this type of work earlier. “I really feel like I can make an impact on a person’s life.  Because of the high number of Māori affected by mental health distress the people’s lives I am having an impact on are likely to be whānau in the broadest sense.  My whakapapa includes Ngāti Porou and Tūranganui a Kiwa iwi which makes it easy to connect with most Tairāwhiti people.”

Guy is involved in clinical governance groups including Te Kuwatawata, ending seclusion, policy reviews and suicide postvention service development.

“I co-chair the monthly Consumer Advisory Group for those that access mental health services. I am also a regular visitor to Te Whare Awhiora – Gisborne Hospital’s Acute Adult inpatient service.  I also meet with Piki Te Ora the group of people looking to transition from the ward to community living.

These are the groups that feed into the perspective I bring to decision-making around mental health services being provided in Tairāwhiti. 

Hauora Tairawhiti has recently stepped up its involvement of health service consumers in its decision making. We are committed to delivering health services developed around the needs of people, whānau and communities, says Chief Executive Jim Green.

“We have had Consumer Representatives involved in mental health and maternity services for some time. We are now extending that to services across the board starting with our Clinical Governance Group. This is the group that works on continually improving the quality and safety of clinical services in the district. A number of senior medical staff sit on the group and it is chaired by Director of Nursing Sonia Gamblen.”

We are committed to including the perspective of people who understand what it is like for patients in our decision making, says Sonia. “The group is now looking for people who have had recent experience with health or disability services in Tairāwhiti. Good local networks and communication skills to bring advocacy to the group are important.”

“I have been filling in for the last three meetings but I am already committed to other forums and the role requires someone who can bring a wider health perspective than mental health,” says Guy.

“It needs someone who listens well to what people are experiencing when they use health services and someone who has the ability to articulate those experiences effectively.

I had a lot of support when I first started and you need that. The type of papers on the meeting agenda can be daunting at first. With help, you learn what is important for you to consider and what is best left to the clinicians.”

For more information about Consumer Leader roles contact Nicki Dever

Phone 06 869 0500 ext 8256