3. Recruit - Engaging People with Lived Experience

This toolkit was developed by the People with Lived Experience Workgroup and Community Champions from 100 Million Healthier Lives, and is brought to you in partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.


Recruiting means more than just identifying who will join your team. Once oriented, PWLE should work together with you to co-design their role—identifying what’s needed for their success and how their participation can be mutually valuable. After selecting someone to work with you, sit down and have a conversation with them about what they bring to the work, what they can do, and what they feel ready to learn. This may include:

  • Laying out expectations and hopes: Be clear about expectations; share hopes and goals. Ask about theirs. Working with your team should have value in addition to compensation, so think about how this work fits with their needs by growing potential job and education skills, learning to advocate for one’s self, etc.
  • Discussing support: For any need you cannot meet, problem solve together to work around it. Be adaptable and flexible to give everyone what they need to be successful, so they can openly bring their skills and knowledge to the work. (If we are not using an equity approach in the way we work, we cannot build programs that address equity!). Common needs include: cell phones, internet, transportation, job references, adapted meeting times, child-care, etc. 
  • Modeling the approach: Model how you work by co-designing the role with the PWLE. Use this opportunity to take an equity-oriented approach by asking what people need to engage fully with the team, and collaboratively problem-solve to make it possible. 
  • Rinse and repeat: Periodically reconsider their role; ask what kind of work they are able to do, and what they are ready to step into.


  1. Determine who you want to bring to the team and invite them
  2. Orient PWLE more deeply to the project and role
  3. Co-design the role together and make sure it’s a fit for all involved



  • Review potential members as a team — share your impressions, whether they have the qualities you are looking for and the role that may fit them best. If the current role does not seem like the best fit, you can keep them in mind for something else!
  • Invite the PWLE to join the work — many people will wait for the invitation rather than ask you.
  • Identify someone who will be a point person who PWLE can go to for support throughout the project and introduce this person to the group.


  • Share about the role and project.
  • Review the team’s processes (storing information, meeting schedule and location, expectations for pre- and post-meeting work, etc.).
  • Stress that support is ongoing. Offer separate meetings for PWLE to go over other questions and use these for support and training as needed. Their identified point person can also be a source of support.
  • Answer any questions about the role, project and work overall.

Co-Designing the Role

Once the new team member with lived experience has been oriented and attended a meeting or two, discuss the role and how to make it best fit the individual. Expect to repeat this process periodically.

  • Identify key elements for the role, including what will be done and how. 
  • Allow them to see how the team’s work might align with their own priorities and values  
  • Discuss expectations, making it clear that attendance is not mandatory, but failure to attend meetings will result in forfeiting the right to be part of decision-making.
  • Review challenges and opportunities for each type/component of the work. What can they do easily? What can they do with support? What will other team members need to do? 
  • Ask what other supports they might need to be successful in the role
  • Because one individual cannot represent the range of experience, ask: Are you able to access and get feedback from your peers? Do you need any support with this? (Make sure to build time to get feedback when planning for any new projects.).
  • Discuss the impact of different kinds of feedback and how you can use them. 
  • Stress the use of flexible options to obtain feedback.  Ask what feels most accessible to them and others.
  • Discuss their personal resources, skills and capacity—what they feel ready to bring to the role now and what they can grow into. You may need to help people identify these as you go along.
  • Ask for their feedback on the orientation! Use this discussion as an opportunity to begin teaching basic quality improvement methods
  • Be very clear that you expect to fine-tune this process—together—and learn from what works and doesn’t work.


First page of DVHSC Advocate's Program Compensation Policy
DVHSC Advocate's Program Compensation Policy
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
Collage of portraits from 100 Million Healthier Lives movement
Stories from 100 Million Healthier Lives
Brought to you by 100MHL
Published on 09/10/2020

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