Embracing people-centred care by harnessing the knowledge of patient and family partners

A meeting involving LHSC staff and patient and family partners.

April 30, 2024

From April 29 to May 3, we are once again celebrating People-Centred Care Week, an annual celebration of health-care staff, physicians, and volunteers who impact the patient experience.

In support of this recognition week, Karen Connors shares her experience as Director of Patient Experience at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

Written by: Karen Connors, Director of Patient Experience at LHSC.

As the Director of Patient Experience at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), I am often asked what is meant by ‘people-centred care.’ In short, it is an approach to care that has evolved over the last 30 years to help organizations collaborate with patients and families as partners in their care.

In 2023, we produced a video to show people-centred care in action through the lens of a day in the life of staff, patients and their families. The video was co-designed with LHSC patients and family partners, staff, and physicians.

People-centred care recognizes the ways in which the knowledge of those with lived experience can be used to not only inform their own care but work in partnership with organizations to inform program design and improvements in care that impact others. Using a people-centred care approach means acknowledging the value of care providers and recognizing the powerful role of their relationships with patients and families in the overall care experience. It incorporates perspectives from everyone – including patients, families, clinicians, administrators, policymakers, and more – in shaping the way patients experience health care.

At LHSC, we are committed to the principles of People-Centred Care. This is evidenced in our purpose, which is laid out in the 2023-27 Strategic Plan

We harness excellence in research, innovation and learning to deliver world class care experiences. Through partnership with patients, communities and the larger system, we advance health care and wellness for all.

LHSC demonstrated its commitment to people-centred care by involving patient and family partners in the development of the 2023-27 Strategic Plan. Patient and family partners were brought to the table at the very beginning of the process and were a crucial voice as the organization crafted its vision and priorities for the next three years.

Beyond the development of the Strategic Plan, we have engaged in numerous activities over the last year to ensure the patient voice is embedded in all we do – from the bedside to the boardroom.

  • In October, we launched our largest patient survey program ever, surveying both inpatients and outpatients within two weeks of their care experience. The response to date has been incredible, with over 32,000 responses received. This data will help inform what we are doing well and where we have room for improvement.
  • Patient and family partners were key members of our Accreditation team in 2023, supporting LHSC along the way to receiving Accreditation with Exemplary Standing, Canada’s highest designation. The co-designed Accreditation Tracer Program was accepted at the Beryl Institute as a poster presentation.
  • Recently, patient and family partners also helped inform our Quality Improvement Plan for the coming year, selecting a measure of experience that is important to patients.

LHSC has over 80 patient and family partners and we are looking to double that number. In addition to providing support on the special projects listed above, patient and family partners work on Patient and Family Advisory Councils, participate in hospital committees, and work alongside our teams on quality improvement projects. They also review patient-facing materials and policies and procedures that impact patients.

We are proud of the work to date, but we know there is so much more to do. Whenever a program at LHSC is planning a change, beginning a quality improvement project, or considering how to improve the experience on their unit, we encourage them to ask the question:

“Have we consulted the Patient Engagement Office to determine the best ways to engage patients and families in this decision?”

The Patient Engagement Office helps support this work by matching patient and family partners to requests and supporting them in their work with staff and physicians. With current demands on the health-care system, it can be challenging at times to gather all of the relevant perspectives, but it is necessary work. It is only through these partnerships that we will meet the challenge of improving the health-care experience for all.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about our Patient and Family Partner program, you can connect with our Patient Engagement team at LHSCPatientEngagement@lhsc.on.ca.

A group of LHSC staff and patient and family partners.