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04 Feb 2020
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Practical tools for meaningful consumer engagement

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Melbourne Academic Centre for Health
New toolkit is proving to be popular

One of the significant achievements for VCCC was the launch of a Consumer Engagement Toolkit just before 2019 year-end. Despite the seasonal break, traffic to the toolkit on the VCCC website has been constant ever since.  

The toolkit is enabling the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of VCCC consumer engagement to be shared broadly, with close to 2,400 pageviews and 144 sample documents downloaded since the portal opened. 

“VCCC’s new consumer engagement toolkit has tangible resources, which I find incredibly helpful. We’ve already used a few of their checklists, including the one for committee chairs, as well as created an introduction pack for our consumers based off their guidelines.” Heather Whipps, Melbourne Academic Centre for Health 

With collaboration being widely embraced as an accelerant for achieving better patient outcomes, authentic process-driven engagement with consumers is a good thing. But it can also be risky, particularly if not well supported within an organisation.  Good consumer engagement demands everyone’s interests and responsibilities are well understood. This can take time, intention and resourcing. 

“Feedback from the 2019 Consumer Engagement Forum was positive and motivating,” says Sophy Athan, Chair, VCCC Cancer Consumer Advisory Committee. “We had around 140 people involved in the room and online. Many are actively engaging with consumers and were looking for ways to have more meaningful involvement. Most were keen to hear how consumer engagement can be done and to find out more about the toolkit. We are very proud of the work we put into it and it is enormously rewarding to see it so well received.”

Dr Joanne Britto, VCCC Consumer Engagement Manager agrees. “We have consulted broadly on the documents and templates that make up the toolkit and it is important to now be able to share it with others who are progressing their systems and processes.”

Part of the forum was dedicated to asking participants to identify themes, gaps and perceived development opportunities to enhance effective consumer engagement. Some key elements were:

  • Having a culture within an organisation to integrate consumers
  • Fostering mutual respect with shared goals
  • Ensuring the development of both consumers and those who work with them
  • Recognising the range of roles and responsibilities from advocacy to education, project design and implementation. 

This week at the VCCC around 50 consumers and cancer sector professionals got together on World Cancer Day to participate in a speed networking event.  Using the World Cancer Day theme of ‘I Am and I Will’, the event created a catalyst for introductions and conversations. 

All consumers and health professionals are invited to two forthcoming public events coming soon: 

Public lecture: Improving breast cancer outcomes: past, present and future - register here

Monday Lunch Live: International Women’s Day event: Women in Collaborative Leadership - register here

For more information on using the VCCC Consumer Engagement toolkit, contact Dr Joanne Britto, VCCC Consumer Engagement Manager.