Understanding Patient- and Family-Centred Care

You may be asking yourself, how do patient- and family-centred care and patient experience align with patient engagement? What about real-time patient surveys and other tools to measure patient involvement?

Although patients are at the centre of all efforts, a framework acts as a unifier for the role that patient partners play in the system, and what you should be incorporating into your work moving forward.The framework from the BC Ministry of Health, providing patient- and family-centred care (PFCC) is a key priority for our province’s health care system:

Integrating patient engagement activities happens on a continuum that starts with your relationship as a health care provider with patients and moves to partnering with patients to develop system-wide programs and services that improve quality. A great example of this is:

By engaging patients, we move from a direct care relationship with them into an organizational design, governance and policy-making relationship. Being able to articulate how this relationship is seen within the PFCC framework is an important step to establishing clear benchmarks for success.

As described earlier, preparation is the key to authentic engagement. Discussing as a health care team your assumptions, attitudes and commitment towards this shift in relationships with patients is an important step in team readiness. A good guide to having this discussion is from the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. These questions can serve as a self-assessment and a discussion tool for your team in the preparation stage for authentic engagement.

Checklist for attitudes about patients and families as advisors

Use this tool to explore attitudes about patient and family involvement in their own health care and as advisors and/or members of improvement and redesign teams. It can be used for self-reflection and as a way to spark discussion among staff and physicians before beginning to work with patients and families as members of advisory councils, and quality improvement, policy and program development, and health care redesign teams. Answer and discuss the following questions:

At each health care encounter:

  • Do I believe that patients and family members bring unique perspectives and expertise to the clinical relationship?
  • Do I work to create an environment in which patients and families feel supported enough to speak freely?
  • Do I listen respectfully to the opinions of patients and family members?
  • Do I encourage patients and family members to participate in decision-making about their care?

At the organizational level:

  • Do I consistently let colleagues know that I value the insights of patients and families?
  • Do I believe in the importance of patient and family participation in planning and decision-making at the program and policy level?
  • Do I believe that patients and families bring a perspective to a project that no one else can provide?
  • Do I believe that patients and family members can look beyond their own experiences and issues?
  • Do I believe that the perspectives and opinions of patients, families, and providers are equally valid in planning and decision-making at the program and policy level?

If you have experience working with patients and families as advisors and/or members of improvement or other teams, answer and discuss these additional questions:

  • Do I understand what is required and expected of patients and families who serve as advisors and/or members of improvement or other teams?
  • Do I clearly state what is required and expected of patients and families in their roles as advisors?
  • Do I help patients and families set clear goals for their role?
  • Do I feel comfortable delegating responsibility to patient and family advisors and improvement team members?
  • Do I understand that an illness or other family demands may require patients and family

Source: Kristin L.Carman, Pam Dardess, Maureen Maurer, Shoshanna Sofaer, Karen Adams, Christine Bechtel, and Jennifer Sweeney, “Patient and Family Engagement: A Framework for Understanding the Elements and Developing Interventions and Policies, ”Health Affairs 32, no. 2 (2013): 223-31.

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