Living the values -respect, integrity, care and imagination: Investing in co-design to pave the way for consumers to be project partners in paediatric health service innovation

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Introduction: In 2016, Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) launched its new organisational values; respect, integrity, care and imagination, as well as pursuing a more integrated approach to service delivery. Delivering paediatric healthcare across the continuum in a state as diverse as Queensland presents many inherent challenges. Through a successful Integrated Care Innovation Fund grant for CHQ to deliver telementoring to general practitioners in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the first paediatric hub in Australasia for Project ECHO® launched in May 2017. This was a successful example of fostering a strategic, sustainable, and mutually-beneficial relationship with a dynamic and dedicated consumer.

Change implemented: By living the organisation’s commitment to its new values and integrated care agenda, the medical lead and project manager engaged a consumer who identified as a mother of four children with behavioural health needs. Consultation occurred with the consumer to identify how the project could acknowledge the value-add that consumers bring to implementation science, and how CHQ could benefit to consumers outside of enhanced clinical service delivery resulting from the project implementation.

While caring for four children, participating on a project steering committee, weekly teleECHO clinics and completing undergraduate human services studies, the consumer was supported by the project team to design a student placement plan that would expose the consumer to frontline project management in a large-scale, multi-site health service, while maintaining objectivity as an advocate for families, and maintaining compliance to objectives of the undergraduate course.

The project manager coordinated a comprehensive onboarding and networking agenda, including weekly full-day project management supervision for the duration of the semester placement. This included providing coaching and debriefing for the consumer to maintain the ‘real life’ experience and reflective element of how CHQ engages with consumers to enhance the implementation of the Project ECHO® hub. With this support infrastructure in place, the medical lead could test the efficacy of the project’s implementation, with consistent focus on effects impacting the families.

Target population and stakeholders: Consumers, advocates, patients, families, clinicians, hospital executives and GPs.

Timeline: Two years, with an evaluation to be completed in June 2018.


Consumer co-design at all stages of the project lifecycle to implement the ECHO® hub.

Consumer achieved a High Distinction for her placement.

Consumer empowerment to apply university study with real-life experience and co-designing innovative new models of service.

Mutual benefit, recognition and trust built between stakeholders.

Enhanced value in new service models by GP audiences.

Pairing traditional project management methodology with organisational values to empower consumers to be key partners of co-designing innovation.

Sustainability and transferability: This consumer engagement approach, and value-add of co-design is directly sustainable and transferable to other project contexts. Through delivering innovative new models of service, health services can empower and inspire consumer representatives to become professionals, formally acknowledged and accepted for their lived experience and academic pursuits.

Conclusions: CHQ has successfully launched the ECHO® hub, and continues to foster a positive and mutually-beneficial consumer developmental relationship. Participating clinicians and management have unanimously accepted the ongoing consumer participation to continue innovating.