When Community Speaks
Nearly 100 individuals came together at the New Holly Gathering Hall to learn about the challenges and opportunities of accessing healthcare and improving the health of our community. We had gathered to learn from one another and from the voices of over 900 households and 33 ethnic communities living in south Seattle and south King County, WA. A warm welcome was shared to kick off "The Community Speaks: A Report-Back on the Consumer Voice Listening Project" – an event co-hosted by HealthierHere and the Center for MultiCultural Health.
Community voice plays a critical role in developing equitable, long-term solutions that work for our community. However, when community members are asked for feedback on various initiatives, they are not often included in the decision-making process — nor do they learn how their feedback is being used before a new initiative is launched. HealthierHere wants to do things differently. We believe that our work must first center the needs of community members to better understand problems and co-create solutions. To accomplish our goals for improving health and advancing equity in King County, we need to ensure that decision-making processes include those most affected by the decisions.
Partnering with Community Experts
The work for The Community Speaks began in the Fall of 2018, when HealthierHere and The Center for MultiCultural Health partnered to implement the first phase of HealthierHere’s new Community Grants Program. With commitment and financial support from the HealthierHere Governing Board, we provided grants to community-based organizations and grassroots groups to conduct engagement activities with consumers.
Organizations used the grant funds to provide trusting, culturally relevant forums for community members to share their experiences with the health care system – what works, what doesn’t, and what could make it better. By partnering with established community organizations, we were able to capture insights from voices that are often missing from planning and decision-making processes as part of the initial design of that work.
Community leaders shared from their experiences during a panel discussion about community engagement.
Hearing from Consumers
We are thrilled by the level of engagement and grateful to all who shared their thoughts and experiences in this first round of the project:
18 COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
33 ETHNIC COMMUNITIES
Organizations coordinated activities that would work well for their communities. Some used translated versions of the survey, which was available in a total of 12 languages. Several opted to host focus group discussions. One organizer even met with community members at their homes to make it possible for them to participate. Each group used its unique understanding of the community to create a process that would work for them.
Engagement activities were conducted by the African American Health Board, Association of Zambians, Congolese Integration Network, Consejo Counseling and Referral Service, Falis Community Services, Khmer Health Board, Latino Community Fund, Living Well Kent, Lutheran Community Services, Mother Africa, Pacific Islander Health Board, Pamoja Christian Church, Sisters in Common, Somali Health Board, TI-Plus, Vietnamese Health Board, Washington State Coalition of African Community Leaders, and ZACUSA.
You can interact with the data they collected here.
On the evening of April 16, 2019, community group leaders, community members, and HealthierHere staff, Board and committee members gathered to share food, conversation… and data!
"The Community Speaks: A Report-Back on the Consumer Voice Listening Project" brought us together to learn from the experiences and information generated by the Community Grants Program and Consumer Voice Listening Project.
You can view the presentation slides from the event here.
Some highlights from the evening:
Thanks to the organizations that participated in the first phase of our Community Grants Program. The event was packed with community participants and lively conversation.
We shared an initial review of information gathered from focus groups and surveys about local experiences with health care.
Community leaders joined a panel discussion about authentic community engagement. They reflected on successes, challenges and lessons learned from their work engaging with community members about their experiences with health care.
Community members raised important questions and highlighted opportunities for how our local health care system could better meet community needs.
HealthierHere's Executive Director, Susan McLaughlin, thanked community members for their insights, responded to questions, and shared HealthierHere's commitment to meaningful community engagement.
Chief Equity & Strategy Officer, Marya Gingrey, discussed next steps for diving deeper into the data, sharing results, determining how HealthierHere will act on the information collected, and continuing conversations with community.
Thank you to all who shared their ideas, knowledge and efforts as part of this project and event.
You can view the presentation slides from the event here.
The evening closed with a commitment: this is just the beginning.
HealthierHere is committed to developing ongoing, meaningful mechanisms for authentic community engagement, and this is one milestone in a complex, long-term process. We also realize that this first round of the Consumer Voice Listening Project does not fully capture all communities, and plan to do additional outreach to include as many different perspectives as possible. We are thrilled with what’s been accomplished so far and can’t wait to share more as this work progresses.
Want to learn more or get involved?
Community Grants Program and Consumer Voice Listening Project – review all the materials and access the data
Community & Consumer Voice Committee – learn more and join a meeting with the committee dedicated to centering consumer voice in our work