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 enables 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.
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 expressing consumers’ views, and are a mechanism for the 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.
Do you have a CAB at your center?
Let the National HCH Council know if you have a Consumer Advisory Board, so we can support your work and connect you to our leaders in the National Consumer Advisory Board. Additionally, our Consumer Engagement Assessment Tool provides recommendations for valuable consumer engagement practices and allows organizations to get connected with consumer engagement TA and training.
Consumer Governance Resources
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.
Virtual CAB Meeting Guidelines
Due to the Coronavirus, many CAB meetings have had to adjust to video or conference calls. 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.
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
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.