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The Importance of a Different Voice - Listening to Our Consumers

December 13, 2012  |  By Heidi Romans Nelson, CEO, Duffy Health Center

This week I want to reflect on the importance of consumer involvement to our work. I attended the annual meeting of the Mass Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) on Wednesday, where they gave the First Annual Ed O'Neil award. The award was created by MHSA to honor people who have given selflessly to serve persons experiencing homelessness, in particular people who have been homeless themselves at one time. The award went to a staff person from the Boston Rescue Mission, who shared very powerfully his own experience of addiction and homelessness, and how much it means to him to serve others now that he is able.

It almost goes without saying that the consumer perspective is critically important to our work. Also this week, the Duffy Board of Directors elected Martha LaGoy Taylor to the board, replacing Bach Charon and representing the consumer perspective. Martha had a career as a piano tuner before she became ill and unable to work. She experienced all three of Duffy's integrated services, and lived for awhile at Pilot House. Now she works at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and is ready to give back through board participation.  

Recently, Susan Child's and Chris Parent joined our staff, to work on our emergency department collaboration project. Both have personal life experience that will help them relate to the clients they will serve.

In November, we added Denise Washington and Brad King to the Performance Improvement Committee, after Jane de Groot made the excellent suggestion to add consumers to the PIC. Already, these consumers have made valuable suggestions for improving services.

And finally, for the past number of years we have had a Consumer Advisory Board, ably staffed by Allison, which advises us on a number of issues, in particular client satisfaction, and helped facilitate voter registration.

After all, it is they that we serve! They must have a voice, and their voice makes everything we do stronger. Please help by: encouraging Duffy clients to participate as consumer representatives, supporting those that already serve, and pass along any ideas you hear from our consumers...thanks!!

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