Our voices | ō mātou reo attendee evaluation report
The conference Our voices | Ō mātou reo, held on 25 May 2023 at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, brought together a diverse range of health care professionals, policy makers, consumers and whānau. With 378 people attending, the event featured keynote speakers, a panel discussion, breakout sessions and a networking event. See the full programme.
The aims of the event were to:
- learn about how consumers and whānau can engage and partner with our health sector to ensure consumer perspectives are reflected in the design, delivery and evaluation of health services
- understand what it means to apply Te Tiriti o Waitangi in practice, honouring mātauranga Māori
- explore what it means for the health sector to take a ‘health equity for all’ approach
- apply and build on knowledge gained from our communities to improve the quality of the health system in Aotearoa New Zealand.
These aims were displayed on our website and included in all event communications.
To enhance the quality of future consumer health forum Aotearoa events, He Hoa Tiaki | Partners in Care conducted a survey of people who attended the event. We emailed this survey to people who had attended the event and was available to complete for 21 days. Of the 378 people surveyed, 141 completed the survey (response rate of 37.3 percent). The results of the survey are presented below.
Value of the event
Of those who completed the survey, 91.5 percent agreed (46.8 percent) or strongly agreed (44.7 percent) that the event was of value to them.
The question gave respondents the option of providing additional comments about the event. Some commented on the level of planning and organisation, such as ‘It was clear that a lot of very good planning was put in place to make this a valuable conference and great balance of speakers/topics and interest’. Other respondents found the event motivating and inspiring: ‘This was incredibly beneficial to all the pōtae I wear in all aspects of mahi and other areas I am involved in. Eyes and ears are open to speak and encourage others to speak clearly and confidently’ and ‘Hearing amazing speakers sharing their lived experience and having their voice to be heard loudly’.
Conversely, of those who completed the survey, 8.4 percent were either unsure (7.8 percent) or disagreed (0.7 percent) that the event was of value to them. These respondents suggested that covering all four aims in a one-day event was not achievable. One respondent stated, ‘I think the day covered off the 1st and 4th bullet point really well, but I didn't feel that the 2nd and 3rd were really touched on much. But these are huge topics, so perhaps trying to cover them in one day was too ambitious!’
Content or agenda of the day
An exhilarating educational day, full of exciting keynote speakers, engaging MC and an opportunity to network with many on the same mission.
Many acknowledged the importance of the mihi whakatau and following tikanga Māori throughout the event. Respondents shared the view that the mihi whakatau began the day in an appropriate way and fed into the overall sense of manaakitanga present at the event. One respondent commented that ‘building a fabulous relationship with Mana Whenua right at the beginning was a special highlight for me’. Another respondent told us that ‘the mihi whakatau and the tikanga Māori were amazing’.
Many respondents acknowledged Arrun Soma for his facilitation of the event. They complimented his skills in interacting with keynote speakers and engaging them in the ‘Out of the box’ panel discussion. Respondents also stated that the kōrero they heard from the keynote speakers and the panel discussion was of great value to them. One respondent said that ‘the speakers were amazing’, while another respondent called the keynote speakers ‘inspiring’ and said they provided ‘great insights’. People enjoyed hearing from the speakers about lived experiences of their health journeys and found the personal descriptions of navigating the health system valuable and thought provoking. In addition, respondents reported that hearing from these speakers helped motivate them to use their own ‘voice’ and to further understand how they can do so in ways that drive change in the health system.
Another aspect that received positive feedback was the opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing that the event created. Respondents appreciated being able to informally network with attendees who had similar experiences and insights about consumer engagement. For example, a respondent said they normally felt ‘isolated’, but found it very valuable to connect ‘with others throughout the country and learn from others how I can improve my community, health and wellbeing’. Other respondents described how the event enabled them to connect with others who are actively involved with consumer engagement initiatives around the country: ‘an exhilarating educational day, full of exciting keynote speakers, engaging MC and an opportunity to network with many on the same mission’.
Respondents felt that the breakout sessions were a useful way to dig deeper on a specific aspect of consumer engagement and have some discussions with smaller groups of peers. They reported that these sessions were enjoyable, but many felt they could have been made even better with more time allocated for them within the programme. We recognise it could have been useful to facilitate more breakout sessions so that attendees could have more focused discussions.
Another aspect of the sessions that many respondents commented on, which was also a broader theme for the event, was the lack of tangible takeaways or guidance on the ‘how to’ of consumer engagement. Two respondents, reflecting on their experience, commented:
I enjoyed the afternoon session about community engagement – but I have to wonder about the relevance of the rest [of the sessions] and who they were aimed at. It felt like preaching to the converted, with little practical guidance on the ‘how’.
I left wondering how the learnings from the day could and would actually be applied i.e. next steps.
What attendees found most useful
The survey asked respondents to consider which three parts of the event they found the most useful. The graph that follows gives a visual representation of attendees’ responses. The speakers and MC section and the ‘Out of the box’ panel discussion were the top two-ranking sections of the event programme, with 99 respondents identifying each of them as among the three most useful parts of the event for them. These were followed closely by the informal networking opportunities (in the top three for 71 attendees) and the ‘Mobilising communities for change’ breakout session facilitated by Alex Nicholas (69 attendees).
It is important to note that the networking function was an optional activity at the end of the event. As such, fewer respondents may have considered this as a possible choice when answering this question.
Final reflections on the event
We asked attendees to tell us how we can improve future events and received useful comments. By far the most common themes that came from responses to this question were about representation and accessibility.
Representation, participation and attendance
Many called for more consumer representation and involving more consumers contributing to the content of the event itself. Respondents wanted to hear more about what has worked well for consumers and what are the challenges ahead within the health system transformation. They also want to see a stronger focus on issues and inequities facing rural, refugee and migrant communities, and consumers and whānau with mental health and addictions. There was a lot of interest in including more youth consumers and more youth involvement. One responded also reminded us not to ignore the substantial 30,000 consumers representing the rare disorders communities.
In addition to wanting greater consumer representation, respondents were interested in an increase in participation from the health sector at such events. One suggested that we consider inviting more health professionals to attend the conference ‘to hear and understand views and issues of health consumers’. Other suggestions involved inviting policy makers and decision-makers: ‘I would love to see providers at big events like this with consumers – it would have been so valuable for Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora to have listened to the panel discussion for example (but also all the discussions throughout the day).’ A Q&A session and opportunities for collaboration with health sector decision-makers were among other suggestions.
Accessibility and venue
We received very useful feedback about some of the accessibility challenges at the event. The top-ranking comments in this area focused on access to tables and seating at tea and mealtimes. Some responses were:
The venue was great, the only thing to me was that at lunch there weren't enough tables & chairs around. Because it wasn’t finger food and required a knife & fork you needed something to put your plate on.
Venue was ok, but very inconvenient when eating; be great to have tables and seats especially for vulnerable, disabled, children, elderly to sit and eat properly, not trying to balance their food on their laps or standing for long hours.
We were also reminded that the arrangements for sound, lighting and moving around the venue all need to be more disability friendly.
Respondents also wanted to see more practical tools and takeaways, access to livestream or video-recording of sessions, and overall, better management with questions from audience and more opportunities to ask questions.
We asked respondents to list some takeaway messages from this event. Here is what they had to say in their own words:
Same barriers affect many groups, building community capacity takes time, planning and commitment
It is both desirable and possible to work collegially with consumers to design health services which actually work for people
Nationwide, the lived experience leadership community is big
Include diverse voices in planning and delivery of health services, early
Was re-energised and inspired to help make any positive improvements that I can be involved with to make the health system meet the needs for consumers
Everyone has experiences accessing health care – rich or poor
Co-design is possible at any level even one to one in a consultation
Learned experience & lived experience should be considered together
I know why I do what I do
Incorporating more tikanga, customs into practice
Sharing power is essential
Consumer engagement across entire organisations is required
It is the people, the people, the people
That there are distinct community needs within wider geographic locales
Overall, survey respondents considered that the conference ‘Our voices | Ō mātou reo’ was successful. The feedback we heard was that this was a valuable event for attendees that provided many opportunities to share knowledge and network.
The He Hoa Tiaki | Partners in Care team would like to express our gratitude to all the speakers, presenters and breakout session organisers for contributing their knowledge and giving insights into their kaupapa. We would like to thank the staff at Te Pae and all others that helped make this event possible.
We acknowledge that we can do better in some areas and we will action this in planning the next national forum. The next national consumer engagement forum is planned for 15 May 2024 in Auckland.