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Monday, February 27, 2012

How Patient Engagement is making a difference at SickKids

Margaret Keatings is Chief Interprofessional Practice and Chief Nurse Executive at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Child and family-centred care, established at SickKids in the early eighties, is a significant strategic priority for the hospital.  It is exciting that, through the leadership of the Health Council of Canada, “patient centred care” is emerging as an area of focus across the health care system, with providers exploring new and more effective ways to ensure optimal health outcomes, improve patient and staff satisfaction, and provide high-quality, cost-effective care.  As innovators in child health, we at SickKids have made great strides in developing a philosophy of family-centred care, whereby the child and family are at the very core of everything we do. 
Our journey was influenced by children and their families.  As identified by key experts at the “National Symposium on Patient Engagement,” the engagement of patients is critical to achieving significant improvements in health care outcomes.  At SickKids we credit much of our success to our extensive engagement of children and families in decision-making at the organizational and patient care levels.  Through focus groups and retreats (that also included over 500 inter-professional staff), children and families significantly influenced our present and future direction.
Children and families participate in key leadership teams at the hospital.  The Children’s Council influences our thinking in many ways and ensures we stay focused on what matters most to the child and their families at all stages of development.  The Children’s Council has contributed to and led key hospital initiatives such as “Meals on Wheels,” where children order what they want and when they want to eat.  They designed our “No Smoking” strategy and have recently provided and influenced a new model of creative arts therapy.
The Family Centred Care Advisory Committee is a partnership between staff, parents and former patients who provide input into key organizational decision, recommend new and innovative programs and provide education to all staff and students.  The stories they share with staff and students influence care, foster empathy, and engage our teams in their commitment to family- centred care.
I believe the approach at SickKids is not relevant only to pediatric populations.  Health care in general should consider a model that moves beyond the “person” and ensures the patient identifies and defines the role of the family/support system they want and need. In order to achieve the best outcomes, patients of all ages need support from those who care most about them, especially when they are ill and most vulnerable.  A broader definition that recognizes that “persons” do not exist in isolation of a family or community, and where their values and beliefs are respected, is required.
Thanks for the opportunity to share!

Key Words: Patient Engagement, Hospital for Sick Children , SickKids

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