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.