The power of people: Enhancing the patient experience

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As health care workers and leaders, it’s our job to provide expert, compassionate care to our patients. We go to school, get our credentials and apply these skills day in and day out. All with the purpose of helping the patient feel better, healthier and hopefully, ultimately, happier.

At Bruyere Continuing Care, one of Canada’s largest health care organizations, the art of enhancing the patient experience comes from many roles other than the direct care team (i.e. patient’s immediate nurses and doctors). The staff supporting hospital operations plays a vital role and have a positive impact on patient care experience.

MORE: A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ENHANCE PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Imagine for a second your husband of 20+ years. At the young age of just 53, he has begun counting his time on earth in weeks and days. He’s palliative, he’s tired and he wants to feel happy again. If only for an hour…

Now imagine a cool September day, where you want to do something special for your husband and his wide circle of family and friends. Why not have a concert right in the hospital?

Thanks to a quick collaboration between you, and support from corporate communications and Bruyere Foundation within hours a four piece band is filling the halls with joyful Celtic music. It is a powerful, emotional moment, one you will always remember.

This happened at Bruyere, you can watch what transpired next: Google: youtube + music to our ears + Bruyere.

You can see Bill – the man of the hour – tapping his toes to the music. Without a doubt, those tapping toes show an enhanced patient experience. Sadly, Bill lost his battle with cancer on 08/10/2014 at Bruyere’s Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital.

VOLUNTEERS AND THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Bruyere Continuing Care has over 700 volunteers who are at the heart of our large, multi-site organization. One such volunteer, Yih Lerh Huang has transferred his expertise and life’s work in high tech to the patients at Bruyere’s Saint-Vincent Hospital.

Saint-Vincent Hospital is Ontario’s exclusive complex continuing care program. With 336 beds, this hospital fills an incredible need in the region’s health care system.

Patients in this program are managing challenging health care issues, many of lost the ability to communicate through traditional means. However, thanks to Yih Lerh Huang and the passionate team in the Augmentative and Alternative Communication department, the world has opened up in ways they had only dreamed.

MORE: I AM THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Patient Molly can SKYPE with her sister in British Columbia thanks to a headband from the corner store and a Gyroscope. Watch Howard a former engineer who although, he is struck with ALS, he still has a sharp mind. Howard is able to read the news and listen to classical music simultaneously thanks to the Tobii Eye Tracker.

Google: YouTube + engineering at Bruyere

Yih Lerh doesn’t get paid and rarely leaves before 5 p.m. most days – but he knows he is enhancing the patient experience.

HELPING PATIENTS NAVIGATE THE SYSTEM Navigating the health care system is stressful for the patient, the family and the caregiver.

At Bruyere, there was a gentleman whose mom had done a health care tour of Ottawa due to her debilitating turned terminal illness. He was tired and run down from the hand-over-fist money exchange and constant search for information.

The entire family was in a state of shock over the money being paid to various social services in order to keep both his life and that of his mom’s afloat for the last six months.

It was one comment, likely mentioned a dozen times a week at Bruyere’s Accounts Payable department, as part of the admission script that changed everything. As the son went through the admission paper work process he had done so many times before, the employee gently smiled and said, “Sir, please don’t worry, you’ll never receive a bill from us.’

A PORTRAIT OF CARING

Finally, there’s Ruth – an accomplished portrait photographer – who has been walking her lab Diesel past patients sitting outside one of Bruyere’s five sites for 20+ years and has been so intrigued about this community of people young and old.

Ruth contacted Bruyere offering to capture as many of the 336 patients interested in telling their story through photography. The patients who are participating say they are “flattered,” and “honoured,” that someone in the community has taking a special interest in them.

MORE: MEASURING THE QUALITY OF CLIENT AND FAMILY ENGAGEMENT

PROCESS, POLICY and PEOPLE

As health care leaders, we keep an eye on process and policy. For example, some health care organizations are considering removing visiting hours entirely – because it’s the comfort of the loved ones visiting which enhances the patient’s experience.  At Bruyere Continuing Care we are astutely aware of the most important ‘p’ to consider – people. Regardless of what role you play either inside the hospital or as member of the community, we can all enhance the patient experience,