Giving back to the community

Meet Allan Edmondson, member of the Patient & Whaanau Centred Consumer Council and ‘unsung hero’.  At a time when Allan should be enjoying a well-earned retirement, he and other members of the Council freely give their time, energy and experience to ensure people in their communities have a voice when it comes to improving patient care and health outcomes. This is Allan’s story.

Meet the Consumer Council: Back row: Debbie, Kelly, Ezekiel, Allan | Front row: Myra, Rosalie (Chair), Barbara, Stella, Samanthan | Absent: John and Diane
Meet the Consumer Council: Back row: Debbie, Kelly, Ezekiel, Allan | Front row: Myra, Rosalie (Chair), Barbara, Stella, Samantha | Absent: John and Diane

I live in the beautiful locality of Franklin, which has been my home for the past eight years. I’ve retired now, however that hasn’t slowed me down. This ageing brain and body need continual stimulation to remain active, stay healthy and contribute to society. That’s why I enjoy representing my community on the Consumer Council. Over the past few years, I’ve picked up a fair bit of knowledge, wisdom and experiences to pass on to those willing to listen.

When I was 29 I met a wise old English gentleman, called Christopher who changed my whole outlook on life and my working philosophy. Instead of accepting things for what they are, I was encouraged to ask questions and seek out better ways of doing things. My favourite phrase was ‘is this the only way to achieve this goal – surely there has to be a smarter way to achieve the same result faster’. While this was challenging at times, the satisfaction I got from pushing the boundaries was worth the effort. It’s a way of thinking that has stuck with me throughout my life.

I’m now using that knowledge and some of my spare time to give back to the hospital and the community that has served my family well over the years. In particularly I’m passionate about the elderly being adequately prepared when it comes to end of life care. While we come into this world kicking and screaming, I believe we should leave this world peacefully and if possible on our terms. That’s why I’m a firm believer and advocate for Advanced Care Planning.

I’m really proud to serve on the Consumer Council, along with ten other committed members. We all come from various walks of life, and each has a story to tell. As prior users of the health system and representatives of our communities, it’s our job to bring the consumer and whaanau and community perspective to the development of Counties Manukau Health plans, policies, publications and operational decisions and to raise issues that are being identified in the community.

Over the past two years, the Council has been involved with over 90 projects, which include the Healthy Together strategy, End of Life – Amber Care programme, Cancer Steering group, Sustainability programme, building extension plans, and the Stanford University ‘Health Self-Management training. This has been really exciting to see and re-enforcement that people see real value in the services we provide.

I’ve also noticed a real shift in thinking. The patient/consumer and whaanau voice has got stronger and is now being heard and included in the development of services and programmes. The Consumer Council has a closer relationship with various departments/services and a much better understanding of how the hospital functions.

I’m extremely grateful to serve on the Consumer Council. It makes me immensely proud to make a real difference to the people we represent and to provide a valuable service to staff.

If you would like more information about the Consumer Council click here.

Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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