Consumer Engagement in Governance
Consumer engagement with organizational governance and advocacy is important because they help decision-makers understand the needs of consumers on the ground, provide a unique perspective in monitoring project performance, and enable us to meet our goal of client self-determination and engagement with care. In addition to the importance and impact of this feedback, HRSA also requires health centers to engage consumers in their governance structures.
Consumers can be involved in the feedback process in a number of ways including surveys, focus groups, feedback boxes or consumer advisory boards.
View Our Consumer Advisory Board Directory
Find a listing of Consumer Advisory Board contacts that have engaged with the National HCH Council.
Consumer Advisory Boards
A Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) is a group of people with the experience of homelessness, providers, and community members brought together to positively affect change at their local Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) project. CABs advocate for consumers with respect to services at the HCH project, advise on policies and practices, assist consumers in navigating service delivery systems, and represent the consumer viewpoint to keep governing boards focused on the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
CABs also serve an important function in helping consumers develop leadership skills, provide a safe forum for the expression of consumers’ views, and are a mechanism for exercise of consumer power. Many CABs develop projects of their own, such as health fairs, consumer surveys, voter registration efforts, or Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day events.
The National Health Care for the Homeless Council recommends CABs as an important tool for consumer engagement in governance and advocacy. The National Consumer Advisory Board (NCAB), an entity within the National HCH Council, participates in the Council’s consensus decision-making as a fully equal component of the organization, and is considered critical to the Council’s success. NCAB has published a Consumer Advisory Board Manual for HCH Projects and other relevant resources.
Let the National HCH Council know if you have a Consumer Advisory Board so we can be supporting your work and connecting you to our leaders in the National Consumer Advisory Board.
Consumer Governance Resources
- NEW RESOURCE: Updated CAB Manual
- NCAB has revised and reformatted the CAB Manual to include more lessons on effective CAB management, as well as adding sample CAB documents, and a workbook for CABs to develop their own structure and guidelines.
- NEW RESOURCE: Virtual CAB Meeting Guidelines
- Due to the Coronavirus, many CAB meetings have had to adjust to video or conference call. These are some guidelines and suggestions from CAB members who have organized virtual meetings.
- Consumer Governance Requirements in Health Care for the Homeless
- Overview of board requirements for health centers and health care for the homeless grantees.
- HCH Board Composition Quick Guide
- Breakdown of various types of health care for the homeless project structures and their board governance requirements.
- CAB Manual
- Quick Guide on Consumer Engagement
- Considerations and tips for organizations in how to build structures and processes that support meaningful consumer engagement.
- Recruiting and Retaining Consumers Experiencing Homelessness in Health Center Governance
- Discusses common challenges and offers solutions in how to recruit new consumer leaders, as well as how to create structures and environments that encourage them to continue to engage. Also included are useful lessons on creating healthy group dynamics.
- Guidance for CAB Support Staff
- Lessons learned and tips for health center staff that serve to support Consumer Advisory Boards
- The Birth of the Consumer Advisory Board Movement: A Case Study from Boston
- This case study documents the creation and evolution of the first CAB at an HCH project, as well as sharing lessons learned from these innovators.
- From Recuperation to Life-Long Leadership: Consumer Governance in Medical Respite
- This brief takes lessons from HCH projects to demonstrates the process and considerations for developing consumer engagement in medical respite programs, including examples from 3 respite programs.
Other Consumer Materials
- Consumer Employment
- This report highlights employment strategies that six organizations apply in hiring individuals who have experienced homelessness and received health services. The case studies reveal mission-based hiring practices that recognize the unique assets and needs of employees who are or have been consumers. Their approaches to hiring and managing a consumer-inclusive workforce demonstrate a commitment to their employees and their conviction in the unique value a diverse workforce brings. Their stories demonstrate the impact of consumer employment, not only on the lives of individual employees, but on the institutions that hire them.
This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,967,147 with 20 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.
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