Patient Engagement: Tips for Facilitation

Today’s the day. You are now embarking on your patient engagement journey. It’s important that you, as the facilitator, set the tone for a positive atmosphere and guide the conversation towards the aims and purposes of your initiative.

Here are some helpful hints on how you can engage patient partners:

  • Spend extra time on introductions at the beginning of a meeting, especially for a new committee or when there are new members.
  • Provide clear information about the purpose of the committee or task force and the roles and responsibilities of individual members.
  • As the leader or chair, discuss the concept of collaborating with patients and families explicitly, recognizing that it is a process with everyone learning together how to work in new ways. Convey that it will be important for the group to discuss how the process is working from time to time.
  • Avoid using jargon, acronyms, and technical language, if possible. Make sure to explain and define these terms when they are used. This applies to both oral and written materials.
  • Consider beginning some meetings with a brief story that captures patients’ and families’ experiences and perceptions of care.
  • Acknowledge that there will be tensions and differing opinions and perceptions.
  • Ask for the opinions of patients and families during discussions, encouraging their participation and validating their role as committee members.
  • To avoid becoming stuck in the power of a negative situation, acknowledge the negative experience and ask if there was anything supportive, helpful, or positive for the group to learn from the situation. Ask for ideas and suggestions to prevent or improve the situation.
  • If a personal story becomes very prolonged, acknowledge the power and importance of the story, and work towards ensuring that patient partners feel valued for this contribution while assisting them in moving forward with the purpose and aims of the engagement opportunity.
  • When there are extreme differences in opinions or perceptions, consider:

– Appointing a task force for further study of the issue;
– Asking the opinion of other groups (e.g., another committee or patient/family advisory group); or
– Delaying a decision and considering at a future meeting.


Source:  Adapted from Tips for Group Leaders, Institute for Patient and Family-Centred Care http://www.ipfcc.org/resources/tipsforgroupleaders.pdf

Resource Category

Health Care Partner

Resource Type

Tips & Checklists

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