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An interview with champion of consumer/whānau engagement Dr Lynne Maher

Consumer hub Partners in Care
03 March 2022

Dr Lynne Maher is the principal of co-design at Ko Awatea, Counties Manukau Health’s centre for health system innovation and improvement. With a nursing background, Lynne is a champion of consumer/whānau engagement and has been a long-time advocate of co-design. We recently chatted with Lynne about her work. 

How are you involved in consumer/whānau engagement?

I support and coach health consumers and providers to collaborate to improve services. That’s what we call co-design.

We do co-design for two reasons. The first is to better understand the current health processes and systems, and the experiences of people delivering and receiving them. The second is to improve care so consumers have better opportunities for health and wellness, and so those delivering services have better job satisfaction.

I’ve worked extensively with the Health Quality & Safety Commission for about nine years, facilitating co-design programmes and now helping to create online learning modules on co-design.

Why is consumer/whānau engagement important to you?

Because we can’t do it without it. Consumers give unique perspectives of their experiences of our health systems.

Health professionals come from one way of thinking. They need to engage and collaborate with consumers on multiple levels to understand what is needed. Consumers should be team members alongside clinical, administrative and other groups working together to ensure health care really meets the needs of the people who deliver and receive care. We need to continue to aim high to provide the best, most equitable health care possible for all.

Therefore, consumers need confidence, support and opportunities to influence at different levels, for example, care experience, governance in local organisations and at national level.

We need to know and act upon consumer perspectives in order to provide good health care. It really comes down to caring about people.