How do we best support our consumer advocates?

Inclusion is key.

Educate. Provide resources to help advocates stay abreast of health care quality issues. AF4Q’s website houses fact sheets, presentations, and guides on quality issues. “A Guide to Building Consumer Orientation Materials” will help you compile background information.
Provide One-on-One Support. When possible, offer individual assistance before meetings to ensure advocates are knowledgeable about the issues and are planning how they will present their perspective. Let them know which staff they can contact for information or assistance. Check in regularly to gauge their level of engagement, and learn how to support them more effectively.
Bolster the Advocate’s Position. Ensure that advocates are seen as equal partners by highlighting what they bring to the table. Build time into meeting agendas for their viewpoint.
Update. Keep advocates updated on discussions among the Alliance Leadership Team, the National Program Office, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation about initiatives, objectives, etc. Look for opportunities for advocates to contribute to those discussions.
Link Advocates With Each Other. Encourage advocates to network with their peers in other Alliances. One opportunity is through the AF4Q Consumer Engagement Leadership Consortium (CELC). .
Contribute Financial Assistance. Some Alliances like the one in Maine dedicate funding to consumer advocate organizations to help cover time and expenses. 
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What to do Next?