Sue Miller has been an employee of Portland District Health and a user of the hospital’s services but she also contributes from the other side as a consumer advocate.
The former PDH youth and homelessness worker joined the Community Advisory Committee about six years ago and has helped to make it easier for others using the hospital.
While mainly advocating for people with disabilities and welfare groups, Ms Miller can also speak on behalf of returned service people, those with respiratory conditions and other issues.
“It’s about making sure that when people come into the hospital they are as comfortable as possible and they have access to truthful storytelling that is easy to read and understand.”
Ms Miller says that in recent years PDH has made the hospital experience significantly easier.
“With disability, it’s all about presentation of posters or pamphlets and making sure they are clear, simple, and easy to read and understand,” she said.
Ms Miller also organised Board members and staff to go to disability service Kyema to talk to clients to reduce their fears about going to hospital.
The committee reviews all literature and processors for consumers. “We’ve got a better intake system now for people coming into hospital,” Ms Miller said.
Now 71 and continuing to battle chronic health conditions, Ms Miller is encouraging people to join the committee.
“I have chronic health issues so I am sometimes a consumer of the hospital so I can represent consumers on this committee and speak up for people with respiratory problems because I’ve got lived experience.
“It’s not easy but I find it fulfilling. It’s up to us to ask the questions the community might ask.”
While helping to make things easier for others, Ms Miller also enjoys the challenge. “Being on the committee gets me out there doing something positive and it makes me think, plan and make intelligent decisions.”
CEO Samantha Sharp said the Community Advisory Committee increases community and consumer voice and involvement at PDH.
“The CAC has an important role in advocating to the Board of Management on behalf of the community, consumers and carers,” Ms Sharp said. “The committee brings a community perspective to the development of priority areas and key issues to strengthen and make effective consumer and community participation at all levels of service planning and delivery.”