Consumer Engagement in Governance

Consumer engagement with decision-making processes at Health Centers is important because they help decision-makers understand the needs of consumers from the consumer point of view, provide a unique perspective in monitoring project performance and are able to challenge decision-makers to consider consumer-driven options for health care delivery. In addition to the importance and impact of this feedback, it is also a requirement for health centers.

Consumers can be involved in the feedback process in a number of ways including surveys, focus groups, feedback boxes or consumer advisory boards.



Consumer Advisory Boards

A Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) is a group of homeless and/or formerly homeless individuals, advocates, providers, and community members brought together to positively affect change at their local Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) project. CABs advocate for consumers with respect to services at the HCH project, advise regarding issues that pertain to services and consumers at the project, assist consumers navigating their way through service delivery systems and represent the consumer viewpoint to keep governing boards focused on the needs of the special population that homeless and formerly homeless consumers represent.

They also serve an important function in helping consumers develop leadership skills, provide a safe forum for the expression of consumers’ views, and are a mechanism for exercise of consumer power. Many CABs develop projects of their own, such as health fairs, consumer surveys, voter registration efforts, or Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day events.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council recommends CABs as an important tool for consumer engagement in governance and advocacy. The National Consumer Advisory Board (NCAB), an entity within the National HCH Council, participates in the Council’s consensus decision-making as a fully equal component of the organization, and is considered critical to the Council’s success. NCAB has published a Consumer Advisory Board Manual for HCH Projects and other relevant resources.


Let the National HCH Council know if you have a Consumer Advisory Board so we can be supporting your work and connecting you to our leaders in the National Consumer Advisory Board. Email our Consumer Advocate, Katherine Cavanaugh, at