Engaging advisors and advisory councils

If your organization has already established the engagement of persons with lived experience,  your organization may already have community advisors or advisory councils. Usually, these individuals and groups are already recognized for the work they do in person engagement. They likely have policies, procedures and approaches in the way they ensure the goals of engaging persons with lived experience are achieved for various initiatives to which they contribute.

The table below lists three main groups of advisors and advisory councils with which you may want to collaborate. They can offer a wealth of knowledge in helping you effectively include the voice of persons and families in your change initiatives.

Advisory group and description Description

Patient/family advisory council

A group of persons/patients, family members, and/or caregivers who regularly meet with staff and organizational leaders involved in improving the quality, safety and experience of care.

  • Prioritize patient safety and quality of care as regular agenda items (e.g., person- and family-centred care, preventing medical errors).
  • May host meetings, sessions, or coffee hours to bring together patients, families and staff to discuss ideas for improving the experience, quality and safety of care.
  • Advocate for advisory members to be included in patient safety rounds.
  • Support organizational improvement efforts (e.g., system redesign, patient and staff communication, staffing workflow, organizational culture).
  • Review and provide feedback on annual quality improvement plans.
  • Participate in analyzing data from patient experience surveys.

Community health advisors

Laypersons (voluntary or paid) who are trained to support the implementation of community-based initiatives.

  • Participate in training (initial and refresher).
  • Provide training to community groups (e.g., train-the-trainer).
  • Assist community groups with developing an action plan and checking in on progress.
  • Provide technical assistance, education, support and encouragement as needed.

Citizen advisory panel

An effective method for community engagement, by which community perspectives are considered in the process of making health service decisions. These individuals may be members of the lay public, persons/patients, or families and caregivers of persons/patients.

  • Affirm decisions or make alternative suggestions regarding health service priorities.
  • Offer suggestions and advice for adopting/adapting/integrating health services.

SOURCES: Bombard et al., 2018; Grinspun & Bajnok, 2018; Hatlie et al., 2020; Institute for Patient- and Family-Centred Care, 2011; Liang et al., 2018; Planetree, 2017; Pougheon-Bertrand et al., 2018; RNAO, 2015; Sharma et al., 2018; Timmings et al., 2018; Wieczorek et al., 2018.