Jami Brown, engagement leader for the Fraser Valley region, joined PVN in February and has been having amazing experiences with patient partners ever since. She wrote about them in this blog post, in which she also introduces the beautiful story of Bob and Kimberly Strain, a father and daughter duo who volunteer together.
“You never know what you’re going to find out as the new kid on the block. When I started on this journey, I wondered why they are PVN members. What keeps them coming back? What draws them into working for something that they may never personally benefit from? I had these questions in mind as I tried to talk with as many Patient Voices Network members as I could in my first weeks as the new engagement leader for the Fraser Valley.
I was thrilled to not only be welcomed with open arms but also to see how eager they were to share their stories and suggestions. Patient partners come from all walks of life: teachers, housewives, business professionals, health care workers and administrators to name a few. Their commitment to being a positive voice, working alongside health care partners to improve health care, proves that the patient’s voice is not only alive and well in the Fraser Region, but only getting stronger by the day. A common thread is that they truly believe in the power of their voice to influence change in the health system. They continue to sacrifice family time to contribute to the evolution of patient-centred care.
I am truly inspired, and deeply committed, to be a support to these amazing examples of everything that is good in people, using the strength of their collective voice towards a better health system for all British Columbians. It is a pleasure to support their voice being heard across the Fraser Region and boost their confidence to speak whenever the opportunity arises.
My hat’s off to this wonderful group of people and the difference they are making each day. I have so many stories I could share, but I chose one example of strength and commitment from the Fraser Region, the dynamic father-daughter duo of Bob and Kimberly Strain. A family that volunteers together stays together. Health care isn’t an afterthought in the Strain family. After Kimberly joined PVN, she convinced her dad, Bob, to join her in this quest for health care improvement. They even did their orientation together, a first for PVN!
Bob and Kimberly have chosen to channel their negative patient experiences into a strong voice for change and have found that health care providers really value their input. The Strains say instead of complaining about problems without any voice in making change, PVN provided a space in which their voices and experiences contribute to partnerships with health care partners for improvements.
Both Strains have been extremely active in provincial and Fraser Region opportunities. It wouldn’t be unusual to see either of them contributing in such areas as medication reconciliation, education & training, focus groups and other important patient and public engagement activities.
The Strains have experienced a number of health issues, stealing so much from their lives, but feel that PVN helps provide meaning and an avenue for sharing those experiences. They are able to take their knowledge as patients and translate that into practical input, helping providers along the way. Kimberly considers all the opportunities that come through like Christmas, another way to share and learn.
They see improving health care as a team sport, important for all the players of the system to be on the same team, rowing the boat in the same direction. The Strains see PVN as a support for their efforts to lend their voice and time. They have learned that they don’t have to be experts in health care, but rather share their own valuable experience: that’s what people want to hear!”