December 10, 2020

Consumers making a difference

Northern Health consumers are making a difference and improving health care processes and outcomes by regularly participating on various committees, and being a patient voice during reviews.

Sophie Rodier, Manager, Patient Experience, explained that a Root Cause Analysis (RCAs) panel can be formed in response to an adverse event. This panel aims to identify why an incident occurred and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

“It is important that staff and consumers are involved in this process. Five of these panels held in 2020 have had a consumer member from the Northern Health Consumer Network. We have also had family contribution into three of these reviews, which has led to a greater focus on patient experience during these reviews,” she said.

One of these consumers is Adamina Ivcovici, a consumer RCA panel member, who is finding her involvement to be a very valuable experience. She has completed the RCA training through Safer Care Victoria and was pleased to be able to put this learning into practice. She found it encouraging to see how rigorous the process was.

“It was an open environment and I felt comfortable to speak up. Everyone saw the events very differently but seemed happy to be quite critical when they needed to be or debate points rigorously. The Chair made sure that everyone had input and the chance to be heard. I think sometimes it’s easier as an outsider to see where a process might be lacking, which is where having consumers in any piece of improvement work can be so valuable. While others could bring their clinical expertise, I tried to look at the human elements of the incident we were reviewing,” she said.

During the RCA meetings, Adamina felt she was making a really tangible contribution and was really ‘part of the conversation’. She is also a member of Northern Health’s governance committee.

“I really enjoy being a member of the two committees I sit on, but they can be quite fast paced and I am trying to get my head around lots of content that’s unfamiliar to me. I feel valued and the Chairs always include me and are happy to receive my comments by email if I need time to think about things. Being involved in the RCA was great and a very different experience as it was a small group and everyone was problem-solving together from the very beginning of the process. It was an opportunity to work more closely with staff which was really appealing to me,” she said.

Kate Creed, Quality Manager and panel member, said, “Having a consumer voice on our review meant that we had an advocate for the consumer point of view. They helped to ensure that feedback or questions that the family had raised was discussed, guaranteeing this was included in the panel discussions.”

Northern Health will continue to improve this consumer engagement by looking at training and support for consumers in this area and how to close the loop with our consumers on RCA panels to report back to them about the investigation outcomes.

We are looking to recruit more consumers to work with us in improving the quality and safety of our services. If you know of any patients, carers of community members who would be interested in volunteering their time to support this work please contact or call 9495 3313.