Storytelling: Learning How to Tell a Good Story in Health Care

Our Engagement Leader for the Fraser Valley Region, Jami Brown, held a “learning café” in May, where she shared the secrets of storytelling with a group of patient and health care partners. How did it go? Read her story:

“Everyone loves a great story. If told well, it grabs your attention and sways your thinking. If not, it can leave you feeling uninspired and apathetic. In health care, there are thousands of patient stories that have the potential to influence change for the better. The trick is, where and when are stories appropriate and how can they get told with optimal influence?

Over the past year, we’ve received many requests for patient partners to be storytellers at conferences, committee meetings and other events. Many PVN members have told me that they are seeking support that builds their confidence and ease for telling compelling stories to health care audiences.

At the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, we are fortunate to have great resources available to build capacity around telling stories for impact. Through the valuable feedback from PVN members, I was able to turn one of our Networking Coffees into a learning opportunity. Hence, the idea of a “Telling your Story with Impact” Learning Café was born and took place for the first time in May.

Discussing storytelling with patient and health care partners

We hosted a few PVN members from the Fraser Valley region and colleagues from the Fraser Health Patient Experience Program at the Surrey City Centre Library for a learning session. We discussed our patient partners’ experiences with storytelling, tips and tools for improving their approach, and where and when storytelling is appropriate for the context and to meet objectives.

I was keenly interested to hear about the patients’ experiences, what has worked and what hasn’t and, in particular, if they would like to see more discussion within PVN about where and when storytelling is useful. Our patient partners’ feedback on the content and tools has been invaluable for improving our learning outcomes, format and delivery of the learning opportunities!

One significant improvement I see would be the potential for “team teaching” of the content with patient partners for future sessions, as well as adaptation of the learning café for health care partners, so that they can put some thought into when and where storytelling might be a worthwhile technique to include in their work.

Some of the next steps – coming soon – will include an online Learning Café and creating and sharing new storytelling resources with the Network. One of our patient partners present at the café, Linda Perkins, has already put her learning on storytelling to work by writing an amazing blog post about a true health care partnership, which you may have read here a few weeks ago!”

Stay Tuned For More Resources and Learning Opportunities!

Increasing the capacity of patients and health care partners to support authentic engagement is one of our three strategic priorities in the coming years, and we know that providing practical skills training for patient partners is an essential step to reach that goal. That’s why we’re hosting learning opportunities and creating new resources that all PVN members will be able to use to learn more about the Network and how to successfully participate in engagement opportunities.

Stay tuned for more skill building opportunities as we regularly post them on our website and newsletters, and for the new Resources Portal which will be launched on our website soon. And if there’s any topic you’d like to learn about or any resources – about storytelling or not! – you’d like to see in the new portal, please let us know by email or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Guest post written by Jami Brown

Jami is an Engagement Leader for the Fraser Valley. She believes that PVN is a great way for people to get involved in making the health system better for everyone and loves to see the work of volunteers contribute to positive change. In her free time she likes traveling, golfing, bike riding, watching her beloved Green Bay Packers and spending time with her family.

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