Being a voice for whanau and community drives newly appointed Consumer Council co-chairs

1 June 2022

Passion for positive healthcare experiences has driven Paula King and Jane Parker-Bishop to be a voice for change in their newly appointed roles as co-chairs of the inaugural Taranaki District Health Board (DHB) Consumer Council.

The Consumer Council will work in partnership with the DHB to improve the healthcare experience for everyone in the Taranaki community, but particularly for high-needs populations including Māori, youth, people living in rural communities and those with disabilities.

This exciting new group will place the consumer (patient) and whānau voice at the centre of all aspects of the region’s healthcare. This is important to ensure that the planning, design, and delivery of services continues to meet the needs of the Taranaki community.

Paula King ( Taranaki Tuturu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāruahine) is a locally trained registered nurse and works at Te Kahu Pairuri ki Taranaki (Hospice Taranaki) as clinical nurse educator and kaitakawaenga/Māori liaison.

"I stepped into the co-chair role to be a voice for my whānau. We’ve had lots of experiences with illness over the last few years and the lived experience of healthcare services is not quite the ideal; when you’re in it you can see room for improvements. I’m a very solution-based person so I just want to be part of the solution going forward," says Paula.

The Consumer Council is an exciting new frontier for the health sector, getting input from the consumer right from the beginning.

Paula says, "We’re not just creating services and then having consumers feedback, we are thinking more upstream in terms of co-design, having consumer engagement right from the design and planning phases, all the way through to the monitoring and evaluation of it.

"That’s exciting stuff because it means the voice of the people receiving the services, those that will be on the lived experience end of it will have that voice into what that service will look like for them."

Fellow co-chair, Jane Parker-Bishop, describes herself as the ultimate consumer when it comes to healthcare.

"I’m Samoan, I’m a mum, I’m married to a Māori man, I’ve got parents, aunties and uncles. So I am that ultimate consumer. When we look at health statistics and outcomes, unfortunately for me it is Samoan that’s at the top of the list. It is women, it’s breast cancer, cervical cancer, so all of these things, although I don’t think about them every day, they do affect me."

"Between us, Paula and I have nine kids. That’s nine kids that in the next generation healthcare needs to be better for," says Jane.

14 members join Paula and Jane on the Consumer Council, each bringing a wealth of expertise from their lived health experiences and personal connections to the broad range of communities they represent.

"We’ve got these 16 people and they are fantastic; their background is really varied. We’re from around the rohe, we’ve got representation for Māori, rangatahi, our rainbow and disability communities," Jane adds.

The Consumer Council is operating a two-whare structure. Membership of the council reflects the Te Tiriti-lead model with members allocated to one of two whare: Tangata Whenua and Tangata Te Tiriti.

Paula says," For Māori, services will look and feel Māori. They will be embedded and underpinned by tikanga and te ao Māori concepts which is a really exciting change ahead."

The Consumer Council meets regularly with Gillian Campbell interim district director for Taranaki.

"I’m excited to formally welcome Paula and Jane into their roles and along with the other 14 members of the council I know they’ll do great work," says Mrs Campbell.

"People matter to us. We have always valued the insights and advice provided from consumers at Taranaki DHB. Being patient and whānau-centred is a high priority for us and we must continue to develop meaningful pathways to collectively strive for better health outcomes in everything we do."

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