PVN 10-Year Anniversary: Nursing Students Evaluate the Results of Patient Engagement in Health Care

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary throughout 2020, we’ll look back at engagement opportunities over the years to understand how patient engagement has impacted BC’s health care. In this post, our engagement leader Carol Stathers recalls a project with nursing students to evaluate the health care partners’ perspective through our Closing the Loop Process.

In fall 2019, I worked with a group of four University of Victoria fourth-year nursing students on a project about the benefits of engaging patient partners in health care improvement. It consisted of evaluating responses to a Closing the Loop Form we ask health care partners to fill out at the end of engagements and the results were exciting, as the students were able to understand the importance of engaging patients in their work and we received helpful feedback about our processes.

College of the Rockies, Presenting at Leadership conference on left Derissa Leung and on right Jennifer Forsyth

Nursing students Derissa Leung and Jennifer Forsyth present the project at a conference

Understanding and evaluating the Closing the Loop Process

In 2018, PVN created a Closing the Loop Form to assist health care partners on formally ending engagement opportunities, thanking everyone involved and sharing the outcomes of the project and the impact of patient participation. They’re asked to submit the form at the end of engagements and strongly encouraged to fill it out together with the patient partners involved, reflecting on the work and lessons learned.

We’ve received over 100 completed forms since the process started two years ago, and the nursing students analyzed 77 of them during the project. They focused on answers to the following questions in the form:

  • What was the aim or goal of the initiative?
  • Briefly describe the outcomes of the initiative.
  • Briefly describe the ways in which the patient partner(s) influenced outcomes.
  • What was the purpose of engaging patient partners in this work?

Analyzing the impact of patient engagement

The students were able to quickly identify several common themes within the answers, such as person- and family-centred care, changes in project focus and impact on staff practice and education.

One of the conclusions was that patient engagement is contributing to a more person- and family-centred health care system – this theme was identified in 100% of the responses. It was clear that any time patient partners collaborate with health care partners on projects such as the co-design of resources and physical environments, research studies and education projects, they’re advancing the goal of creating a more person-centred health care system.

Having a patient partner present brought the person- and family-centred care feel back to the health care council meeting and helped us move away from an institutional approach.
Health care partner

Another common theme was a shift in the project direction and the mindset of individuals involved thanks to the patient involvement, as patient partners reminded health care providers to bring their ideas, initiatives and improvements closer to the patient perspective:

The patient partner had a great perspective to bring to this initiative and provided helpful feedback from the family lens.
Health care partner

Multiple health care partners indicated that the effects of patient participation were so profound that their impact extended beyond the engagement by leading to changes in health care practice:

 “The patients’ role was to share their lived experience while reminding the team to put the patients’ needs first. It allowed the patient point of view to become real for the project team, an eye-opening moment to issues the staff was not aware of.”
Health care partner

 Although we noted many areas of improvement, education scored highly, whether it was educating staff through the patient partners’ personal stories or providing valuable feedback that shaped the improvement of websites, patient care plans and patient communication tools.

“We changed the language to reflect what makes sense to the public.”
Health care partner

 Project conclusion

We were happy to realize that including patient partners is shifting the focus of health care and creating more patient-centred outcomes – the patient voice is being heard and influencing change. In the study, we noticed that health care partners showed deep respect for the patient partner collaboration and how it almost always leads to direct changes at the point-of-care, within the organization or even at a systems level.

This project brought priceless feedback to PVN and was a valuable learning process for the nursing students involved, as they said themselves:

I learned a lot about the importance of effective communication and collaboration. In nursing, these are the basis of teamwork, and nurses are always part of a team. After being introduced to PVN and the benefits of patient engagement, I now plan to engage my clients in their health care across my nursing practice.
Carmen Berger – Selkirk College, University of Victoria

Working with PVN allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of patient partner involvement in various health care projects across British Columbia. I’m so excited for what the future of nursing – and health care in general – will be with patients engaged in important decisions and contributing to positive change.
Cassidy Martin – Selkirk College, University of Victoria

Carmen Berger and Cassidy Martin

Carmen Berger and Cassidy Martin

In this project with PVN, my colleague and I undertook a learning experience on the rigours of performing as a professional nurse outside of bedside. Additionally, by doing this collaboratively, I gained the confidence to collaborate with others in an effective and positive manner. I learned another aspect of patient-centred care and the importance of truly valuing the provider-patient partnership to improve health care at every systemic level. It’s something I’d probably never have experienced as a student or bedside nurse!
Derissa Leung – College of the Rockies, University of Victoria

Before embarking on this research journey with PVN, I was unaware of the world of patient engagement. This project opened my eyes to the significant impact that the collaboration of patient and health care partners is having towards the creation of a more patient-centred health care system.  While I’ve always been a passionate patient advocate, I’m confident my new knowledge and inspiration will transfer to the current and future health care teams I work with and the patients I engage with daily. Words can’t do justice to the gratitude I feel for this learning opportunity!
Jennifer Forsyth – College of the Rockies, University of Victoria

Derissa Leung and Jennifer Forsyth

Derissa Leung and Jennifer Forsyth

We’re thankful to Carmen, Cassidy, Derissa and Jennifer for their amazing work in this project!

Guest post written by Carol Stathers

Carol is an engagement leader in the Interior Region. She is excited to see the extensive involvement of patient partners in health care improvements across the province and always interested in learning how to get our patient partners more involved. Outside of work she enjoys hiking and family time in warm places!

Guest-author
Carol Stathers

Guest-description
Carol is an engagement leader in the Interior Region. She is excited to see the extensive involvement of patient partners in health care improvements across the province and always interested in learning how to get our patient partners more involved. Outside of work she enjoys hiking and family time in warm places!

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