Partnering with patients and their families

Become a Patient and Family Advisor!

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Partnering with patients and their families
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“I want to have a voice in the decisions that are made about how care is delivered at my hospital,” says Daniella, a local resident who decided to join Halton Healthcare Services’ new Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) after a less than ideal visit to one of its Emergency Departments last year. “I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from seeing the hospital experience through the eyes of patients and their families, and listening to their stories.”

“Patients and family members are often scared, upset or in pain when they arrive at a hospital,” continues Daniella. “They may need a little help finding their way around, or expressing themselves. How can we make each person feel like they are the only patient of the day – to really listen to them, focus on their needs and take the time to explain things clearly?”

Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) is partnering with patients and their families to further develop a more patient and family-centred culture of care at its three hospitals by engaging them in the decision making process throughout the organization. ­A key component of this strategy includes the recent launch of a Patient and Family Advisory Council. This Council will serve in an advisory capacity at the corporate level and make recommendations on patient experience related matters such as visiting hours, parking and accessibility. They may also provide input into the development of new facilities and programs.

“We don’t always think of patients and their families as customers, but they are the consumers of our programs and services. As such, they can offer valuable insight and feedback about their hospital experience and the care they received. They can also provide concrete suggestions for our ongoing improvement initiatives,” explains Joan Jickling, HHS Director of Quality and Patient Relations. “Their voices are critical. We need them at the table at all levels of our organization whether we are developing a policy, vetting a new procedure or brainstorming a new service.”

Daniella was invited to attend HHS’ inaugural Patient and Family Advisory Council meeting last September and found herself at the table with other like-minded people. Many former patients and family members attended, as well as passionate caregivers like Veronica, an HHS Registered Nurse who is also serving as the Patient Experience Ambassador on her care unit.

“A welcoming attitude, a doctor taking an extra moment to answer questions, or a nurse making a point of connecting with their patients to establish a good rapport are simple and basic things that can be extremely meaningful to patients and their families,” notes Veronica.

In addition to the Advisory Council, HHS has introduced two new exciting roles, Patient and Family Advisors and Patient Experience Ambassadors, to help further this strategy and ensure that patients, families and staff are actively involved throughout the organization.

Former patients and family members are being invited to join working committees as Advisors at HHS. Having their input on projects will help ensure that the working committee’s end product will reflect the voice of the patient, be it a service, pamphlet or safety initiative.

Halton Healthcare Services has also been very successful in engaging its caregivers. A very passionate group of frontline staff have volunteered to serve as Patient Experience Ambassadors, championing change on their units, departments and services to promote and extend patient and family-centred care.

“I have the privilege of touching so many lives each and every day,” concludes Veronica. “We need to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide our patients with excellent care, all the time, every time. I believe together, we can work as a team to strengthen the caregiver and patient relationship, enhance communications, and cultivate a more nurturing, healing environment.”

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