Benefits for Organizations When They Incorporate Lived Experience

Organizations experience benefits at many levels by including community members who have relevant lived experience. Research from the fields of community-based participatory research; organizational empowerment, development, and improvement; and social justice indicate clear benefits for organizations and agencies when they include community members with lived experience at high levels of planning and decision-making in both volunteer and paid employment roles.1-4 The list below illustrates many of the benefits for organizations when they incorporate people with lived experience in their planning and decision-making processes.

Equitable Workplace

  • Operate equitably, genuinely, and authentically
  • Break down hierarchies and avoid stagnation
  • Humanize activities and services
  • Increase inclusiveness
  • Help set priorities for related initiatives
  • Challenge societal discrimination, prejudice, customs, and practices

Quality Improvement

  • Develop high-quality, effective, and relevant policies, projects, interventions, services, and initiatives
  • Operationalize policy issues by illustrating the real life and practical challenges in implementing laws, policies, and strategies efficiently and effectively
  • Add depth to service and activity planning, development, delivery, evaluation, and improvement
  • Inspire innovation to improve services and activities
  • Ensure that services and activities remain true to the vision and values of the organization

Staff Development

  • Empower staff to embrace their own lived experience
  • Effectively use people’s unique skills, capabilities, diverse perspectives, experiential knowledge, and insights
  • Develop employee and volunteer skills and knowledge of suicide prevention beyond theoretical and textbook learning

Community Engagement

  •  Ensure that the activities and services reflect the needs of the individuals and/or communities they serve
  •  Create a sense of service and community ownership
  •  Strengthen identity and gain credibility and legitimacy with communities, government, and the wider society
  •  Build relationships of trust with communities and individuals; increase reach, leverage, and traction of activities and services; and generate social capital

 

 

References

  1. Byrne, L. (2017). Promoting lived experience perspective. Discussion paper prepared for the Queensland Mental Health Commission. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313757552_Promoting_lived_experience_perspective_Discussion
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  2. C. Wells, Axis Group I. (2011). The role of consumers with lived experience in mental health workforce development. Tallahassee, FL: Café TAC. Retrieved from http://cafetacenter.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Workforce-Development-1-4-8-11.pdf
  3. Sandu, B. (2017, July). The value of lived experience in social change: The need for leadership and organisational development in the social sector. Retrieved from thelivedexperience.org/report
  4. Wallerstein, N. (2006). What is the evidence on effectiveness of empowerment to improve health? Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Health Evidence Network report. Retrieved from​ http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/74656/E88086.pdf
  5. Lezine, D. (2014).  Crisis center support for suicide attempt survivors: Results from a Lifeline survey. Prevention Communities. Unpublished research report provided by the author.