DAP Health Leans in with Client Advisory Board
It takes more than good intentions to offer medical care that changes a person’s life. With an emphasis on listening, doctors and nurses can assess what their patients truly need. DAP Health is known for this, but the listening does not stop there. With a thriving partnership between the Client Advisory Board (CAB) and management, the health center is in a dialogue about what is going well, and what can be improved.
“There are more than 10,000 other people getting care right now at DAP Health, and on the CAB, we are just like each of them,” says Michael O’Neill, CAB co-chair, and DAP Health patient. “We speak through the experiences we’ve had.”
Few are accustomed to the number of services and healthcare options offered under one roof. Accessing everything that DAP Health offers can be a challenge.
“I did not know the breadth and scope of services available to me when I got to DAP Health,” Michael says.
But members of the CAB are determined to make it easier for other patients and clients to have it all. They say their gratitude motivates them to help others fully take advantage of DAP Health.
“After the journey, we’ve all been on for years at DAP Health, we’d like to offer shortcuts to other patients seeking better health,” Michael says.
Management says the relationship is a vital part of understanding the community it serves.
“The CAB brings opportunities to the table in the patient experience that we do not always see,” says C.J. Tobe, Community Health director. “We take their advice seriously as we keep patient care and experience at the forefront.”
Besides the complexity of the healthcare system, C.J. says he and his team consider any social determinants of health that a patient or client may be facing. Understanding a patient’s life circumstances is important for offering the best care and services, and the CAB offers a telling sample of all DAP patients.
Each person is on a unique healthcare journey, and every voice offers valuable insight about patients and clients at DAP Health.
To C.J., the CAB is extremely important for maintaining quality within DAP Health.
“What seems like a great idea could actually have ripple effects on a select set of patients or clients,” he says. “For example, the CAB helped us determine our after-diagnosis packet for HIV felt too clinical, and so we improved it to make it feel more personal.”
Thanks to CAB input, the guide is even better suited to offer support for anyone with HIV, including their family and friends. It includes education on HIV, resources, and the enduring message that with DAP, it is not necessary to be alone with HIV.
The CAB also influences marketing and patient information programs by sharing its viewpoint with management. In agreement with DAP clinicians, the CAB loudly supports U=U messaging for helping destigmatize HIV. With many long-term survivors from the worst years of the AIDS crisis, the DAP CAB knows HIV stigma can have deadly effects. It consults closely with management on new opportunities to spread this important message.
Service Motivated by Gratitude
Michael O’Neil is well suited to his co-chair position on the CAB, he says, because he has benefitted so much from an array of important services at DAP. He knows firsthand how much better life can be with DAP.
“I wanted to give back to DAP,” Michael says. “And I’m grateful to be involved.”
Surviving with pancreatic cancer was not enough to make Michael want to stop working, and neither was having HIV.
“Everyone at DAP opened their arms for everything I needed, and also for my husband, who did not have HIV.”
But when his beloved husband passed away unexpectedly, Michael needed the support of a community that understood him and could help him continue thriving with HIV. He says he benefitted greatly with bereavement counseling through DAP Behavioral Health and keeping in close contact with his primary care physician.
Michael wanted to do more, and the CAB offered him an opportunity.
“I could tell the skills I’d learned throughout my life and career could benefit this organization,” Michael says. “When you’ve lost your sense of self, giving back can be the best medicine.”
Making sure that DAP is keeping its patients informed is one of Michael’s favorite things, but it is all part of the DAP paradigm for him.
“DAP has worked on my teeth, my body, my mind,” he says.
With his work on the CAB, “Now, DAP’s given me goals and some sense of self again.”
If you would like to find out more about the Client Advisory Board at DAP Health, visit: https://www.daphealth.org/about-us/client-advisory-board/ or contact Curtis Howard at [email protected] or (760) 656-8414.