"Emma is a mum of two young boys living in north QLD with her husband, 3 dogs and one chicken. She commenced work with Townsville HHS in 2016, continuing to engage as a lived experience representative when starting a family the following year. Emma lead the working group which developed the new recovery journal and has since assisted to expand consumer and carer engagement within the service group in her current role of Consumer Consultant.
Having a lived and living experience of mental health concerns, Emma is passionate about educating service providers and service users alike; with a focus on empowering individuals to take the lead in their own health and wellbeing."
Title: Townsville HHS recovery journal project - the move from tokenistic to meaningful engagement
Author(s): Emma Smith
Introduction: In 2019, Townsville Hospital Health Service, Mental Health Service Group’s (MHSG) Lived Experience Reference Group (LERG) identified the need for a resource to support consumers within the adult acute mental health inpatient unit (AAMHIU). Consumers reported the provided journal, created by clinical stuff without consultation, to be unhelpful, difficult to use and not fit for purpose.
Method: Representatives formed a working group to develop a new Recovery Journal, for use during inpatient stay and post discharge, with a focus on empowering consumers to lead their physical and mental well-being. Senior management approved the final product and funded professional design and printing, providing a copy to consumers admitted to the inpatient unit and making available to the wider service group.
Results & Findings: Implemented in early 2020, clinical staff, consumers, peer workers and independent patient rights advisors report that the journal has been well received and utilised extensively within the unit as well as other teams within the MHSG. Some consumers have found their journal so helpful they have continued to use post discharge, which has resulted in community members, NGOs and other networks making contact to request the use of the resource.
Discussion: "The success of this project has demonstrated the benefits of engaging people with a lived experience in activities which empower them to take the lead in services. The final resource supports holistic care for people with mental health concerns and has started discussion around:
• How engagement in mental health care impacts physical health
• Identifying service gaps
• The benefits of meaningful engagement - to service users and providers.
• How service users can promote engagement
As a result of the project, the LERG has developed and lead initiatives which improve the service provided, in turn improving the physical and mental health outcomes for people in our community."