Lived Experience Involvement
Aspire is expanding the involvement of the voice of people with lived experience in our organizational structure. Nationwide, health care providers are becoming more aware of the power of incorporating this voice into service planning, delivery, and organizational decision making. In the behavioral health arena, this is a move from separated support groups or consumer advocacy groups (such as NAMI, etc), to the employment of and reimbursement for Certified Recovery Support providers. It is a move toward incorporating consumer voices into the decision making and planning groups within an organization (workgroups, committees, boards of directors, etc).
After decades of working with external consumer advocacy groups such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Key Consumers, The Indiana Federation for Families, and many others, in 2013 , Aspire formally chartered the Consumer Advisory Committee. This is a committee within the organizational structure made up of people we serve. Since it’s inception, this committee has assisted Aspire in numerous initiatives and projects, and completed projects of its own.
The Consumer Advisory Committee was instrumental in the development of all of our clinical and new employee orientation programs. These programs allow us to deliver the message of our mission and values, philosophies of care, and the array of our services with the voice of the people we serve. The committee also helped us in developing better communication tools to assist people as they transition into and out of our inpatient services, and allowed us to understand from firsthand experience the difficulties of this transition. They further assisted us with a review of all aspects of our services, from how we meet new people to the physical environment in which we serve them. All from the perspective of someone who has lived through a traumatic experience.
Our Consumer Advisors provide us with feedback on interactions between consumers and employees, thus helping to improve our customer satisfaction. They have been a tremendously important sounding board for ideas and they have provided feedback on too many projects to name. They have even assisted us in procuring artwork for our facilities by orchestrating an art exhibition of works created by those we serve.
Recently, we have expanded the scope of the Consumer Advisory Committee to become a hub for the lived experience involvement and guidance that we desperately seek in specific initiatives. We are very pleased to have three individuals with lived experience assisting us on our Zero Suicide Committee, as they bring unique perspectives from the youth, recovery support and outpatient communities. They provide a great opportunity to ensure the decisions, products and workflows generated for this initiative may impact people we serve.
Additionally, we are currently adding six people with lived experience to our Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Integration (PBHCI) workgroup. This group is working to improve integration of care between our primary care and behavioral health care services as Aspire implements a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Aspire is very fortunate to have such an involved Consumer Advisory Committee as our organization changes and grows to meet challenges in the communities that we serve.
by Jim Skeel, Senior Director, Performance and Outcomes