Patient and family-centered care is an approach to care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among healthcare providers, patients and families (www.ipfcc.org).
What stands out in this definition is the use of the word partnership. Patients, families and healthcare providers should not be at opposite ends of an imaginary spectrum; rather they ought to be together working towards common goals.
The Patient, Client & Family Council at Providence Care Hospital is just one of the many ways in which we engage patients, clients, and families, and work with them as partners in the delivery of care. While this Council is not new to Providence Care, it has changed in significant ways over the last several months.
Patient Council first began at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital more than twenty years ago. The Council was chaired by a patient and included patients and family representatives around the table. Leading up to the move to Providence Care Hospital we knew this council would change. As one of the first publicly-funded hospitals in North America to fully-integrate long-term mental health and psychiatry programs with physical rehabilitation, palliative care and complex care, we looked forward to the opportunity to include our mental health clients in a new council.
The new Patient, Client & Family Council is inclusive of all of the people we serve, and it is one of many ways in which we live our Mission of treating each person with respect, dignity and compassion. The Council is a platform for patients, clients and family representatives to bring forward compliments, complaints or concerns; it is a means in which staff and administration can receive and address feedback in real time. It is also a venue where patients and clients feel empowered because they are engaged in their care.
In addition to patient, client, and family representatives the Council includes representation from Food and Nutrition Services, Environmental Services, Quality and Risk Management, Inpatient Unit Program Managers, Directors, and Senior Leadership.
Mary McDonald, Director of Quality and Risk Management at Providence Care, stated that the Council is one way that we “nurture the partnership between patients, clients, family representatives and the organization. The Council is informative and responsive to patient and client needs and concerns and reflects our Mission and Values by enhancing the quality of life of the people we serve.”
We sat down with Maryl Linton, a patient at Providence Care Hospital and current Chair of the Patient, Client & Family Council. Maryl was able to provide invaluable feedback about the growth and direction of the new Council because in addition to being the current Chair, she was also the Chair of the previous Patient Council at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital.
Maryl spoke of the inclusivity of the Council and said that “everyone’s voices are represented and everyone’s voice is heard.” Maryl is particularly happy to see representation from the Forensic Mental Health unit as well as family members of former patients. “I think the Council provides a sense of comfort to these family members by letting them know that they are welcomed.”
Last but certainly not least, we discussed how the Council reflects ongoing efforts by patients, clients, staff and administration at Providence Care to mitigate stigma. Maryl noted that Council meetings are a space where patients and clients alike can meet new people and have fun. With a combined Patient, Client & Family Council it is evident that Providence Care is leading the way in more ways than one.