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We believe that the best way to care for children is to make the family part of the healthcare team. Families and patients can help our professionals improve the way we provide care for our patients.
It’s a process. We try things, see how they work and adjust as necessary. We also ask for feedback from our council members as well as from staff who seek the council’s feedback. The information we receive helps us refine and improve.
A typical meeting starts with one facilitator (parent coordinator on staff) who welcomes the members, and then a (pre-selected) member shares a brief story about themselves and explains why they are on the council (“Why I Am Here”). We typically work on two to three topics per meeting depending on the breadth and depth of the topics. A staff person or team will attend the meeting, give a brief background, then ask specific questions to the council. They listen while the council breaks down into small groups to brainstorm answers. Everyone reports back their ideas. The end of the meeting is dedicated to reports such as updates on previous topics and hospital news.
Council members attend meetings regularly and provide feedback not only from their personal experience but for all families from all backgrounds and levels of exposure to the hospital.
We meet monthly, except during July and August.
We alternate between Monday from 12-2 pm and Thursday from 6-8 pm.
Yes. We provide free parking and we reimburse for public transportation. We provide a meal to members.
The hospital employs two parents to co-chair the FAC. They plan the agendas, facilitate discussions and follow up after the meetings.
They facilitate the meetings and prep all staff who consult the council for feedback. We encourage two-way discussion between the staff and council. We help the staff formulate questions that the council can address during the meetings so that the staff members can walk away with helpful information. We focus on solutions; not just issues. Facilitators often formulate agendas at the last minute. Agendas consist of topics that facilitators bring to the council and topics that staff bring to the facilitators.
It’s very important to us that the council be comprised mostly of families; however, since family-centered care entails partnering with healthcare providers, we ask strategically selected staff to join the council as well. They provide essential information about how the hospital works as we brainstorm solutions to problems. They bring discussion topics to the group as well.
We ask our staff to come to meetings with questions for council members, not presentations. The goal is to facilitate a two-way discussion. Staff members may bring a few slides with essential background information and their questions. Sometimes the facilitators will lead the discussion themselves.
We respond to the topics brought to us by staff, we ask our family advisers what issues they want to focus on and we try to build bridges to facilitate change. Sometimes changes take a year or more to implement, but we’ve managed to focus on everything that is especially important to patients and families (though much remains to be done).
Our parent co-chairs lead the council. The staff liaison and cabinet liaison, as well as staff in their department (Family Relations) assist and guide them in their work. Group facilitators do not serve terms − they are employees and provide consistency.
We’ve helped inform improvements in the discharge process, clarify medical response team education for families, participated in staff improvement projects, recruited for and launched smaller advisory boards for specific departments or units of the hospital, spoken at conferences or education sessions for staff and appeared in videos on patient safety. We’re currently working on a project to help families understand how they can best be part of their child’s healthcare team.
It’s all about relationships with key decision-makers. The facilitators are also on the hospital’s board of trustees and therefore invited to attend board meetings and the Patient Care Committee meetings where they work on issues like patient safety, access to appointments, improvement projects, home healthcare and other patient-related topics. Participating in these discussions and meeting the high-level hospital leaders at those meetings has helped the parent coordinators greatly in developing essential relationships with people who can actually invoke change. The FAC has also worked very hard on its reputation as a council with the hospital staff to build and maintain credibility as a constructive body that truly does help staff succeed in providing better care.
Amy Clawson writes of her experience with her son after starting her work with the Family Advisory Council.
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