North East LHIN Putting Patients First

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The stories of patients and caregivers from across the region shaped a Patient Engagement Session in North Bay on February 25, 2014. The North East LHIN and The Change Foundation hosted the session so that health care  providers could learn how to better engage patients in building a strong continuum of care for Northerners.

“Those who are affected by a decision have the right to be involved in the decision-making process.” – International Association for Public Participation, Core Value

Approximately 100 people participated either in person, or via Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). Danielle Bélanger-Corbin, Acting Board Chair of the North East LHIN, opened and moderated the event.

“It is through this kind of sharing, in an accepting environment where all experiences are welcomed, that we can help move patient care forward.” – Danielle Bélanger-Corbin

Patients presented their insights and experiences, while regional and provincial presenters offered best practices, successes, and partnership opportunities. Participant evaluation results indicated that 91% of people said they learned at least one strategy for patient engagement that they will apply in their work, and 81% said they met at least two people they would connect with to further their learning of patient engagement techniques and  strategies.

Cathy Fooks, The Change Foundation’s CEO noted: “Listening and bearing witness to the personal healthcare stories of Northeastern families made for a very moving and educational day. Patient/caregiver experiences in this region echo what we’re hearing across the province and reinforce learning from our past work. Ontarians want coordinated and connected care with access to appropriate providers, services and supports, and caring “hand-offs” between places/providers. Our system must work with patients and caregivers to seek solutions driven by their needs and experiences.”

The NorthEast patient engagement session is one of many that The Change Foundation is co-hosting with Ontario LHINs and their local community partners to share topmost learning and spark collaboration on how to better engage with our system’s users to advance person-centred care.

The NE LHIN is planning a second patient engagement in Sault Ste. Marie on May 7. For more information, contact Katerine Moyer, Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator at 705-840-2215 or katerine.moyer@lhins.on.ca

What We Heard

This session underscored the importance of putting a human face on health care; behind every statistic, there is a person, a loved one and family. Northerners like Charles Ketter, a retired teacher of 38 years from Sudbury, who has experienced the system as both a caregiver for family members and as a lung cancer patient, may have said it best:

“We as patients may be sick, or have illnesses, but that doesn’t make us any less intelligent.” – Charles Ketter

Louis Bird, an elder from Peawanuck, spoke about the difficulties in translating medical words into Cree and the miscommunication that can arise when someone is ill or in distress and is asked to relay their symptoms in a language that is not their mother tongue.

“Cultural sensitivity is important.” – Louis Bird

Participants heard about the importance of “active offer” for French services from Johanne Marchant of Sturgeon Falls, a patient who explained that as a francophone her greatest fear is relying on the services of an interpreter to speak for her.

Leslie Stickle’s family wished that the North Bay Regional Health Centre staff could have met “Andy”, their father, husband, grandpa, before he became an Alzheimer’s patient. They worked with the hospital to put together a video collage showing a compassionate and caring family man.

“Working together, we can provide caring and compassionate care to change the system.” – Leslie Stickle

Afternoon Interactive Discussion

During the afternoon, participants broke into groups to discuss the following questions:

  1. How were patients cared for in the spectrum of care in the past: what worked well, what didn’t, and how can we apply it to a transformed system of care now?
  • Transformation with the Patient at the Centre – Given what’s been heard today, and what we have each  experienced personally, what strategies can providers employ to ensure the needs of the patient are at the centre of decision making and new strategies?
The Past: What worked well?
  • Trusted relationship with providers.
  • Home visits.
  • Smaller rosters.
  • Physician privileges at the hospital.
  • Relied on one physicianto know the entire care plan.
  • Longer time spent between primary caregivers and patients.
  • Continuity of care from hospital to home.
  • Family support at home and in community.
The Past: What didn’t work?
  • Patients were not consulted in their care plans.
  • Less specialization.
  • Limited community support services.
  • Few options for care post hospital.
  • Lack of communication between providers (no technology).
  • Less teamwork by professionals.
  • Families weren’t educated or involved in seniors’ health care.
How can we apply our learnings of the past and the present to a transformed system of care?
  • Listen to patient’s point of view and incorporate it in decision-making to ease complex process.
  • Providers work together at every touch point of continuum to decrease gaps in the system.
  • Increase home visits by primary care providers.
  • More interactive conversations between patient and provider.
  • Rely more on technology such as electronic health records and telehomecare.
  • Patient navigation is key to help people move seamlessly through the system.
  • Health care providers need to ask: How does this benefit the patient?
  • Include patients in decision making. “Nothing about me without me.”
  • Provide cultural sensitivity training for new and existing employees.
  • Ensure smooth transition of patient information across care providers by enabling electronic medical records.
  • Health care providers need to be more open and flexible to change to better the patient experience.

Interaction among participants was key to the day’s successes.

For more information, visit LHINS on the web at North East Local Health Integration Network