Patient Experience Week: Why it pays to ask

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In the last week of April, healthcare organisations around the world will celebrate the people who help shape their patients’ experiences.

From nurses and physicians to support staff and executive professionals, patients, families and communities served, the annual Patient Experience Week is a time to recognise accomplishments and re-energise efforts.

In Western Australia, where the health system is becoming more patient-centred, feedback from the people who use its facilities is an increasingly vital tool to improve their experience and outcomes.

“Patient-centred care involves patients asking questions and making decisions about their healthcare,” said Leonie Gardiner, CEO of Attadale Rehabilitation Hospital. 

“It promotes respect for individual preferences and diversity.” 

To encourage patient feedback, Ms Gardiner holds a consumer group meeting once a month at the Perth private hospital. 

“We invite patients to talk to our executive team about what we do well and ways we can improve,” she said. 

“We also ask patients if they feel involved in their healthcare.” 

Patient Experience Week, which this year runs from Monday 26 April to Friday 30 April, originated in the United States with the Beryl Institute.

Its mission is to change healthcare “by advancing an unwavering commitment to the human experience”, which requires organisations to fully understand how their culture affects the experience and outcomes of patients.

Ms Gardiner said Attadale’s monthly sessions were proving to be both popular and insightful. 

“These patient feedback meetings have been invaluable for seeing our hospital from a consumer’s perspective, and making changes to improve patient experience,” Ms Gardiner said. 

“We are very grateful to our patients who take time out of their day to help us ensure patients receive the best possible care for optimal health outcomes.” 

Sue Haddon is a consumer representative at Hollywood Private Hospital

On the other side of the Swan River, Joondanna resident Sue Haddon is proud of her contribution to Hollywood Private Hospital in her role as a consumer representative.

“My main role is to provide feedback to the hospital from my perspective, as well as from the perspectives or experiences of family, friends or the wider community,” she said.

“I feel like I am making a positive contribution to improving hospital visits/stays and at the same time learning a lot about hospital processes.”

Hollywood Private’s Director of Clinical Services, Karen Gullick, said having consumer perspectives was valuable in helping the planning and decision-making at the hospital.

The representative role is underpinned by the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, which require health services to show they have processes for partnering with consumers at various levels across their organisations. 

“Consumer participation results in services which are better designed to meet patient and family needs,” Ms Gullick said.

“Input from consumer representatives leads to better health outcomes for patients.”

Ms Haddon became a consumer representative after visiting her father, who was a patient at Hollywood Private, and seeing an advertisement for the role.

“I thought I would like to contribute back to the hospital,” she said. “The opportunity to influence how patients are cared for, or family members receive information, throughout hospital stays is valuable.

“One day I may become one of those patients.”

Ms Haddon participates in the hospital’s Consumer and Community Advisory Council meetings, which discuss everything from buildings to policy and patient care.

She has also been involved in several nursing and allied health lead research projects, including one relating to ‘end of life care’ at the Nedlands-based facility.

“This was particularly difficult as it brought back a lot of memories of my father’s passing,” she said.

“However, I saw that my feedback was taken on board and the questionnaire that was eventually adopted was a lot more sensitive to the feelings of the family members who would be requested to complete it.”

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