Lay Advisory Committee: Frequently Asked Questions

IHE Lay Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference (22 April 2016)

What is the purpose and mandate of the Lay Advisory Committee?

The IHE Lay Advisory Committee (LAC) was created as a mechanism for obtaining advice from a public perspective on a wide range of topics with respect to medical and/or health services.

The LAC primarily functions at a "consult" level, according to the IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation, which is to "obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions."1 The LAC has also been accessed at the "involve" level where the goal is to "work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered."

Who is responsible for oversight of the LAC?

The IHE senior manager responsible for stakeholder outreach oversees the work of the LAC to ensure the committee is accessed appropriately and to its fullest capabilities and is awarded the priority the LAC deserves.

Who are the LAC members?

The committee is comprised of 10 – 12 citizens from across Alberta who bring diversity to the LAC with respect to their location, age, gender, background, culture, political background, and experiences. A well-known and credible community leader serves as chair of the committee, and all members are over the age of 21.

Individuals currently working in the health system, involved with university research, or members of advocacy groups are not eligible to be members as it is felt their enhanced understanding of Alberta systems and processes is not reflective of the average person in our society.

How are the LAC members recruited?

The LAC Chair recruits new members in accordance with the process and criteria set out in the Terms of Reference.

How long do members serve on the LAC?

Members serve on the LAC up to three years with possibility of renewal for another term. Recruitment of new members is staged to ensure no more than a third of membership is new in any one year.

How are LAC members brought up to speed on a topic?

Requestors are required to provide background material to orient LAC members to the specific topic under consideration and the context within which it exists. This information is distributed to LAC members in advance of the meeting along with the meeting package. At the LAC meeting, requestors also make a short presentation which allows members to ask questions clarifying what the requestor is asking of the committee and ensures their discussions and feedback are relevant and of value.

How frequently does the LAC meet?

The LAC meets twice a year, in April and October. Alternate dates and times can be arranged with sufficient notice particularly if the need for consultation is immediate and the topic timely and of significance to the province and for the public good.

What is the format of the meetings?

Full day face-to-face meetings are held at the IHE office in Edmonton during the work week. Meetings begin with IHE senior management providing LAC members with updates on IHE programs and services as well as introductions to health issues in the news that currently (or potentially at some later time) elicit a strong public response or have a significant public value component.

The remaining time consists of one or more consultations depending on the scope and breadth of the topic under consideration. Generally, topics are introduced by the requesting party and LAC members have an opportunity to clarify any aspect of the topic before they go into their in-camera session. IHE staff and management do not participate in the consultation sessions and are exempt from this portion of the meeting. LAC meetings are not open to the public.

The LAC Chair, in cooperation with another LAC member, facilitates discussion amongst members. Input from each LAC member is valued and consensus of ideas, input, and feedback is not required. Written notes are taken, then reviewed by all members post meeting for accuracy and completeness. Depending on the topic and requestor, verbal feedback may be provided immediately after the in-camera session. A written report of the LAC's feedback is provided to the requestor via the IHE senior manager. At times, members have identified unexpected/unanticipated areas of concern or importance that are not specific to the question(s) posed and these are also related back to the requestor for consideration.

Each LAC meeting ends with the LAC Chair verbally sharing the group's feedback with the IHE senior management.

What types of consultations has the LAC done to date?

Examples of topics include:

  • Low back pain guideline: members provided feedback on public dissemination strategies including a comic book and YouTube video with respect to language, design, and appropriateness of format for the target audience;
  • Feedback on the Alberta Health Patient Portal public communication plan;
  • Comments on patient's education materials for the Alberta Medical Association's Choosing Wisely Alberta Low Back Pain Demo Project;
  • Review of potential questions for the Health Care in Canada survey; and
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): members provided feedback on the FASD website to ensure the site was user friendly to the public.

What types of issues are brought to the LAC?

Examples of topics where the goal of consultation is to obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions:

  • A product where another set of eyes would be of value;
  • Resource allocation;
  • Research priorities; and
  • Other issues facing Albertans.

What does it cost to have the LAC provide consultation services?

There are no costs associated with the use of the LAC consulting mechanism.

How do I contact the LAC to request their services?

To contact the LAC, visit the Contact the Committee webpage and fill out the online form. Alternately, you may download and fill out a PDF of the Lay Advisory Committee Contact Form and return that to the IHE.

1. International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Canada.