St. Michael’s Hospital Community Advisory Panels (CAPs) provide advice to the hospital and advocate for better care on behalf of vulnerable groups (e.g. women and children, people who are homeless/under-housed, Aboriginal Peoples, people experiencing mental illness). Each CAP is about 2/3 community members and 1/3 hospital staﬀ. CAP chairs report directly to the Hospital Board of Directors.
Are CAPS an effective model for involving the community in health care decision-making? How can St. Michael’s Hospital CAPs improve? To ﬁnd out, fellows in CRICH’s ACHIEVE Training Program interviewed and surveyed a range of hospital and community stakeholders.
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- CAPs are effective. Participants who were familiar with the CAPs strongly believed that CAPs worked well to serve the needs of their communities.
- CAPs are productive. CAPs worked with the hospital and local agencies to develop many high-visibility initiatives, including an HIV psychiatry program, a methadone clinic and a portable health record and education tool for pregnant, homeless youth. CAPs also supported the formation of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health.
- The biggest barrier to community participation was lack of information. Participants recommended “getting the word out” on how and why to get involved.