Accreditation Q-Tip: Patient Engagement

June 13, 2022

By Nimrah Kiyani

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At Women’s College Hospital (WCH), client/patient and family engagement are an essential part of providing safe and high-quality care. Client/patient engagement is woven throughout the Accreditation Canada standards and is defined as proactively seeking out the views of clients/patients to inform decisions and initiatives that impact them. There are many ways in which WCH seeks input from patients, their caregivers, and the community. We asked Kate Mlodzik, a WCH patient since 2012, to share her thoughts on patient engagement at WCH.

Kate was referred to WCH for breast reconstruction after undergoing mastectomies and treatment for breast cancer. “From the very first consultation, I felt such kindness, compassion, and optimism from my healthcare team at WCH that I felt that I had found a special place to help me rebuild and move forward with my life after cancer treatment.”

Kate believes that patients who are actively involved in their care are more likely to stay healthy and manage their conditions and that engagement begins with empowering patients to partner with their healthcare team. Having experienced the impact of successful engagement as a patient, Kate looked for opportunities where her voice could further enhance care and services at WCH. “Adding a patient lens to hospital initiatives is crucial to filling gaps in patient care”. Click here to download the Q-Tip.

Kate joined the WCH Experience Advisor Program in 2018.  Experience Advisors are client/patients, their care partners, and community members who work with the hospital by sharing their lived experiences and provide input on various initiatives and programs to make healthcare experiences better for everyone. Experience Advisor engagement opportunities range from sharing personal stories to participating on hospital committees, project teams, and hiring panels, to providing input on patient education materials or hospital policies. Kate says that “Experience Advisors contribute in meaningful ways and the Experience Advisor Program allows patients to expand their involvement in the development and refinement of patient and community-oriented programs.”

Kate is also an active member of the WCH Community Liaison Advisory Committee (CLAC).The committee comprises of a group of Experience Advisors that serves as an advisory body to the hospital and its Board of Directors on community identified needs and gaps, as well as ensuring that hospital programs meet the needs of patients and diverse communities. WCH staff can seek input on various initiatives at CLAC meetings. As a CLAC member, Kate has provided feedback on various initiatives including WCH’s strategic planning, pandemic response and recovery plans, and on the patient experience of virtual care. 

Providing feedback is vital to delivering people centred care according to Kate. She is appreciative of how WCH gathers patient perspectives and measures patient experience through a number of mechanisms include the administration of several standardized patient experience surveys. Survey results are compared to provincial benchmarks and are shared with their respective teams as well as with various committees and the Senior Leadership Team to inform care and service improvements.

The Declaration of Patient Values at WCH was developed in collaboration with our patients and community members and sets the expectations for patients of what to expect when they receive care. When things do not go as planned, our Patient Relations Office provides a confidential service for patients, their care partners, and visitors to facilitate resolution of concerns as well as receive feedback and suggestions for improvement. Patient Relations feedback is shared with the teams involved to identify opportunities for improvement in the care delivery. 

Kate appreciates how teams across WCH obtain valuable insights by encouraging partnerships with patients and care partners at all levels, from clinical interactions to organizational level change. “I continue to be a Women’s patient at Family Practice and am so grateful for the care of my physician and team. They know me well, listen intently and act quickly on my concerns. This strong relationship with primary care is integral for reducing my fear of recurrence because I know that I am connected to excellent care, should I need it. I feel that I have contributed by sharing patient perspective, asking clarifying questions, breaking down communication gaps and helping to continue to create compassionate and equitable healthcare for all.”

To learn more about Accreditation 2022, visit the Accreditation Intranet Hub.