A COVID-19 vaccine: What would help you decide?

A vaccine for COVID-19 remains keenly anticipated by many Australians as a way of releasing us from ongoing restrictions and protecting us from infection outbreaks.
According to peer-reviewed research published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal, a vaccination rate of 80% is needed to ensure herd immunity to COVID-19.  A motivated population is clearly vital to an immunisation programme’s success, yet the scale, urgency and unknowns of such a programme are causing concern to some health consumers as they consider choosing to have a vaccine if and when one becomes available.

Consumer engagement in Victoria and NSW during COVID-19: Lessons learned

Here in Queensland, Health Consumers Queensland is uniquely positioned to amplify the consumer voice. We are fortunate to work with a Government, health department and health services that welcome consumer engagement and values the consumer voice.  Importantly, this commitment is matched by action, not just lip service, with consumer/HCQ participation facilitated at almost every level of decision making in health, and our organization being funded to pivot our work to support the response to COVID-19.
While this engagement and action has by no means been perfect and in every part of the system, it has been this openness by those in the health system to listen to consumers and act, which has set our State’s response apart from the majority of the rest we heard at this week’s Consumer Conversation.

eAlert: Communicating effectively with residents and families

Following the lockdown of residential aged care facilities across South Brisbane and in the Moreton Bay region last week, Health Consumers Queensland and a consortium of six NGOs (including COTA Queensland, Queenslanders with Disability Network, ADA Australia, Palliative Care Queensland and CarersQLD) co-designed a single checklist and provided a series of resources to enable residential care facilities to communicate effectively with residents and families during an outbreak.

As part of this work, Jo Smethurst facilitated a training session to help facility managers understand the importance of communicating well when/if COVID-19 impacts their facility, and develop a comprehensive communications plan to enable them to be responsive to the individual needs of residents and families. This training session was part of a week-long training series led by the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in Queensland Health.

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eAlert: Addressing the barriers to COVID-19 testing

Queensland’s best defences against a sustained outbreak of COVID-19 via community transmission are quarantine, border controls, testing and contact tracing.

Ahead of reports of new cases of COVID-19 in Brisbane this week, 21 consumers had already joined forces with Department and health staff, Queenslanders with Disability Network and Palliative Care Queensland at a Consumer Conversation on Tuesday to share their views on the top barriers to testing and what can be done to address these and encourage more people to get tested.

During the conversation, it was clear that consumers are looking for a clear and unambiguous testing pathway which is convenient, supportive, nuanced and needs-focused. Yet fear, uncertainty, confusion, misinterpretation and complacency are rife.

Specifically, consumers identified the following ongoing barriers to testing:

  • Difficulty interpreting advice about symptoms
  • Unclear testing pathways
  • The logistics of having a test and managing the consequences are too complicated and overwhelming
  • The need to self-isolate (for several days in rural areas) while awaiting results
  • Pain and trauma associated with testing
  • Perceived lack of social responsibility amongst certain groups of people
  • Fear of stigma and retribution if people do test positive

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eAlert: New grant funding underpins our consumer-focused COVID initiatives

New grant funding underpins our consumer-focused COVID-19 initiatives​

Health Consumers Queensland has been successful in securing grant funding from Queensland Health to support our continued COVID-19 service provision. As one of more than 130 community-based health service groups across Queensland sharing in more than $30 million, the grant will help Health Consumers Queensland to continue the delivery of a number of consumer-focused initiatives.

This additional funding will support:

  • continued consultation with consumers on planning for continued and future pandemic situations
  • a new project to engage with young health consumers about their experiences during COVID-19 pandemic (check out the
  • opportunity to join our Youth Reference Group in this eAlert​)
  • evaluation of the strong engagement approach taken by Health Consumers Queensland and Queensland Health during COVID-19.

We are so pleased to be able to continue to support the vital voice of consumers during this time.​

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eAlert: Consumer Conversations are back!

Consumer Conversations are back and they’re better than ever!

Consumer Conversations have made a welcome return this week and it was wonderful to see you all again on Zoom on Tuesday.

For this series, we have brought together our experienced and emerging consumer groups so the COVID-19 Community of Interest has joined up with the Health Consumers Queensland’s Consumer Advisory Group, the Health Consumers Collaborative of Queensland, the Primary Health Networks and the consumers who sit on Statewide Clinical Networks.

Conversations will now be held every fortnight rather than once a week.

These valuable sessions will continue to provide consumers the opportunity to share your lived experience on topical health issues with the group and with Queensland Health. In response to your helpful feedback, we’ve also added a short informative presentation at the beginning of each session to enable you to build your skills and knowledge around consumer engagement.

This week we explored: How to tell your story with impact. Many people become active as health consumers due to a significant experience with the health system. Telling the story of your healthcare journey effectively can be a powerful tool in your consumer kit.

We hope you enjoy this new format and please continue to share your feedback with us as the series continues.

If you’d like to join the Consumer Conversations, please register here. The next presentation will focus on some tips and strategies that help to communicate your message with impact.

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eAlert – Looking Back: How effective was Queensland’s COVID-19 response?

As we mentioned in last week’s eAlert, in the most recent Consumer Conversation we asked consumers for their reaction to the COVID-19 response from Queensland Health, and from us, Health Consumers Queensland. We were very pleased to hear that consumers were satisfied with Queensland Health’s response. Particularly compared to other states, consumers felt that Queensland Health has done very well to involve consumers to such a high degree, to listen and act on their views and concerns. Suggestions for improvement included greater attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, greater reach into the regions, and better communication and especially with culturally and linguistically diverse people and communities.

Consumers were overwhelmingly positive about the COVID-19 response from Health Consumers Queensland, with many feeling that the COVID-19 Community of Interest gave consumers the opportunity to have their voices heard, and gave them the information they needed to support themselves, their families and their communities. Importantly, consumers saw the influence they had on Queensland Health and were mindful of how unique that is in Australia.


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Snapshot of Qld’s COVID Response

By acting swiftly at the onset of COVID-19, Health Consumers Queensland was able to pivot our work to support consumers and the health system to collaborate on solutions to challenges not seen before. This early action has played a key role in ensuring a consumer-centred public health system response to COVID-19.

Through our work, Queensland Health has been able to hear from hundreds of Queenslanders with significant health needs and use that intelligence to form a more wide-reaching response than otherwise possible. You can read the big picture summary of our collaboration here.

Consumers routinely identified early key issues for the community, which we were able to feed through to the health system. This enabled the system to respond in the knowledge of consumer insights and expectations. You can read the full summary of all the themes covered by consumers during this time here.

You can also read the full summary of consumers’ reflections on the response to the pandemic, including how both Queensland Health and this organisation can continue to improve, in our latest Issues Paper.

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