Background: CAC experienced a major change in its membership between 2007-2008, with a membership turnover of more than 80%, which coincided with CAN funding renewal and its own emphasis on legacy rather than sustainability. As such, this was an opportune time for CAC to reflect on its accomplishments, learning, and challenges. The group revisited its values, vision and mission statements, and the Co-Chairs then identified and prioritized the key work areas. The four strategic priorities that were identified and fleshed out were priority areas that all membership felt were most important to maintain until involvement in CAN ceased.
Strategic Plan: The four priority strategic areas of CAC involvement were: research, platforms and tools (i.e. networking and partnerships), knowledge translation, exchange and exploitation, and training. Within these areas, achievable activities were identified. In research, CAC planned to continue integration of the CAC in all of CAN’s programs, research and knowledge translation, exchange and exploitation. Under platforms and tools, CAC developed and implemented an outreach plan with arthritis consumers, the public, government, voluntary health organizations and industry, and aimed to develop systems for orientation, communication and succession of CAC members and Allied members. Under knowledge translation, exchange and exploitation, the aim was to increase involvement of the community representatives and consumers in the planning, execution, analysis and transfer of knowledge and innovations developed from CAN research and training programs. And lastly, under the training component, CAC aimed to provide numerous opportunities for researchers and trainees to interact with the members of the CAC, and provide CAC training days dedicated to keeping the members and local community consumer volunteers well informed about all aspects of arthritis research. To a degree, activities under each of these four sections were carried out. In certain areas, the legacy of consumer involvement in CAN will continue beyond CAN and is something of which consumers are very proud.
Successes 2004 - 2008
1. Developed Allied Member Relationships – ARC/CAB, PP, CAPA, ACAP
2. Developed Relationships with Networks – CANIOS, CDPAC, AF (SNOW), AO, EULAR, SPAARC, IBMO, CCTC
3. Communications – Internal: Revised format for minutes; developed templates for reports and evaluations. External: Drafted plan for HQC Consumer Database.
4. Teamwork – Mentoring new members with various committee work for CAC, TEC, SMAC.
5. Training – Received various training through workshops and presentations on topics such as reviewing research plans, maximizing conference attendance and working in partnerships.
6. Dissemination of Information – Table display boards, conference abstract and poster.
7. Confidentiality – Confidentiality agreements signed by all members.
8. Value of CAC – Each ASC symposium includes a CAC/consumer presenter. The CAC has taken on an enhanced role with CAN trainees and have been more involved with the IPI program, for example Marg Elliott’s involvement in planning of the Patient Panel on pain at SNOW II). Linda Wilhem was a facilitator at the Bethesda Conference and Jean Legare was a rapporteur at the May 2008 ‘Summit’.
9. Aboriginal Initiatives – Consumers were involved in development of the RFP for NAARI (2008); setting up arthritis education programs at the First Nation Disability Office in Winnipeg; and working on Dr. El-Gabalawy’s research project Early RA and FN People.
10. Succession Planning – Although a significant turnover within the CAC in 2007, we have eight new members including a new ARC/CAB representative. The Ontario and Northern representative positions are still available.
11. KTE – Knowledge transfer has begun but it needs formalizing. The CAC has had success with holding ‘Training Days’ in conjunction with business meetings