Project engages patients, families and staff to improve care

Project engages patients, families and staff to improve care

The Challenge

The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) is comprised of four rural community hospitals in Southwestern Ontario. As with many health delivery organizations across the country involved in quality improvement, HPHA staff knew they needed to find a better way to engage patients and families. Up to that point, care planning had focused on health provider roles without considering the roles of patients and families. The adoption of a new interprofessional practice model that emphasized the importance of patient and family- centred care, made the need that much more timely.

The Solution

Realizing that empowering patients and their families to guide health providers in the design and delivery of services meant equipping their patient and family representatives for the task, with the support of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, HPHA leaders created Unit Action Councils (UACs) across the Alliance. Fifteen UACs were formed across the four hospital sites, with eight including patients and families and the remaining seven acting as a control. Patients and families were recruited as members of the eight UACs and were encouraged to participate in a workshop where they were trained for their roles. In addition to patients and families, all staff and leaders attended mandatory workshops on interprofessional care, as well as patient- and family-centred care.

One clinical initiative resulted in fast-tracking the turnaround time for blood analysis within a chemotherapy unit from a previous average of 2 to 3 hours, to 15 to 20 minutes.

The Impact

To date, 49 improvement initiatives have been initiated. These include:

  • Communication and education enhancements such as developing educational materials to support patient transitions from the critical care unit to surgery, improved signage to direct patients to surgical services and creating new signage for doors to patient rooms in the maternity unit including “sleeping moms”, “breast feeding” and “epidural in progress”. 
  • Relocation and redesign of physical spaces such as creating a communal dining room for rehab patients, improving wheelchair availability and redesigning and relocating a chemo unit, among others. 
  • Clinical improvements like implementing hourly patient rounding (bedside visits by a physician—or other health professional—to evaluate treatment, assess current course and document the patient’s progress or recuperation) and a falls prevention program. One clinical initiative resulted in fast-tracking the turnaround time for blood analysis within a chemotherapy unit from a previous average of 2 to 3 hours, to 15 to 20 minutes. The immediate benefit: cancer patients and their families no longer have to wait endless hours to hear from the hospital laboratory and can get the treatment they need sooner.

“It’s meant a culture shift for the hospital staff and the patient community,” says Dianne Gaffney, Corporate Lead, Professional Practice. “HPHA has transitioned away from provider-driven models of care to a patient/family-centred model of care, with patients and families as partners. The days of the patient as a passive care recipient are past.” The value of working alongside patients and families emerged as one of the key outcomes; a significant difference in cooperation was seen in the intervention group that involved patients, compared the control group which did not involve patients and families. Unit Action Councils are now recognized part of the organizational structure and patient and family members will now be included on all UACs.

One member put it this way: “having former patients and family members on the Unit Action Council gives more strength to that council, because management and upper management have to listen. What we have now really works. We have all of the players at the table.”

Dianne-Gaffney-125

Dianne Gaffney
Corporate Lead, Professional Practice
Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance

 

 

To learn more about this project email us at info@cfhi-fcass.ca.