By Evelyne Kane, Program Manager for Community Engagement
In October 2020, we launched Amplify: A consumer voices bureau to increase opportunities for organizations across the country to include the voices and perspectives of complex care consumers in their work. Since the launch, several members of Amplify have been busy using their lived expertise to help improve care and services for individuals with complex health and social needs.
Jamal Brown co-led a presentation to the staff of Virtua Health’s Community Health Institute. In the presentation, Jamal shared how his own experience overcoming substance use disorder and homelessness now serves as motivation for his work as a consumer advocate, and as an individual who seeks to give hope to others that they too can overcome the obstacles they face. Jamal also talked about how he used his lived experience to advocate at the New Jersey state legislature for improved access to state identification cards and driver’s licenses. The presentation also included an overview of other considerations for how complex care organizations can build authentic and mutually beneficial partnerships with the consumers they work with.
Quiana Womack has been working as a member of the planning committee for an upcoming regional convening that the National Center is planning with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity. The convening will bring together a group of cross-systems stakeholders to expand their knowledge on health inequities and disparities and explore how systemic and institutionalized racism has contributed to existing policies that negatively impact health. As a consumer advocate, former certified nursing aide, and longtime PA resident, Quiana is lending her expertise to help ground the concepts of health equity in the real-world lived experiences of herself and her community members.
LaKeesha Dumas was selected as the consumer engagement representative on an expert panel convened as part of the Quality Improvement Program- New Jersey. LaKeesha’s lived expertise as a person in recovery from substance use disorder and mental health issues, as well as her professional experience as a Certified Peer Support Specialist and Community Health Worker, enabled her to provide unique and valuable insights to NJ’s efforts to develop a hospital-based quality improvement initiative and accompanying learning collaboratives to improve care transitions for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders. Her recommendations as part of the panel highlight the importance of person-centered program design and trauma-informed care practices.
Providing services and developing and implementing policies that are inclusive and equitable cannot be achieved without listening to people who have been directly impacted. Their voices are crucial in helping us to chart the path forward.
Interested in learning more about Amplify and how you can connect with one of our consumer experts for your next project or convening? Head over to our Amplify page to learn more and request a speaker or collaborator.