Elevating patient experience and family-centred care

By Patti Enright

Bath towels warm to the touch. A peaceful, contemporary and home-like environment for patients and their families to spend time together while in palliative care. Two private, self-contained suites in the unit, so families can stay close at hand.

These were just some of the features highlighted at the grand opening of Providence Healthcare’s new palliative care unit on October 12.

The first floor of the two-floor unit includes a dedicated entrance separate from the hospital’s entrance for rehabilitation patients and visitors, allowing for privacy and comfort. The unit also features a play area for children and a business centre; easy access to a peaceful, relaxing outdoor space; and common rooms for socializing with family, pet visiting, music, spiritual needs, entertainment, arts and crafts, computer workspace, television and movie watching.

One of two family guest suites on the family and caregiver floor of the new Palliative Care Unit, for families who want to stay overnight. It contains a bathroom spa, closet and flat screen television.
One of two family guest suites on the family and caregiver floor of the new Palliative Care Unit, for families who want to stay overnight. It contains a bathroom spa, closet and flat screen television.

The second floor has comfortable patient rooms, featuring soothing décor; serene spaces with pull out sleeper recliners available for families, with television and music inputs; and new artwork, and floor and wall colours and finishes more in keeping with a contemporary, calming home than a hospital.

The improved and relocated unit brings the care experience for patients and families to a new level.

One hundred per cent of the $4.5 million project to transform the space in Providence’s palliative care program has been funded by private donors through Providence Healthcare Foundation’s Hope Starts Here campaign, including a $1 million donation received from the Archdiocese of Toronto. The palliative care wing’s reception area will be named in honour of Michael Power, the first bishop of Toronto.

In addition to transforming the physical space in palliative care, over the next year new initiatives being introduced to exceed the expectations of patients and their families include: patient-directed visiting hours; improved wayfinding for patients and visitors coming to the program and other areas of the hospital; and flexible mealtimes for patients. A blessing of the hands ceremony is being introduced for staff.

“Our vision is big and bold,” says Josie Walsh, CEO and President of Providence Healthcare. “We want the people we care for to flourish at Providence and at home.”

The strategic direction is three-fold: delivering the best care experience; developing the best community of experts; and, having the best relationships beyond the organization’s walls.

An example of an initiative at Providence that integrates these three areas is the Community Referral Pathway that provides Fast Access for Seniors to Community Assess and Restore Services (FAST CARS). The goal of the standardized care path is to stabilize the health of vulnerable frail seniors, and to keep them healthy and safe at home for as long as possible.

The pathway helps people flourish at home by bringing together experts, such as Providence’s frailty intervention team and community partners.

To support the ‘Best Care Experience’ strategic direction Providence has chosen to pursue Planetree’s Gold Designation in patient-centred care.

Planetree is a non-profit group that works with healthcare organizations internationally to improve the patient experience. In September 2015, Providence invited Planetree to conduct focus groups to create a baseline measurement of the patient experience in Providence Hospital.

The score is based on 48 criteria under 11 key aspects of holistic, patient-centred care. Over 150 staff, patients and families participated in the focus groups.

The summary of the focus group feedback highlighted Providence’s strengths as well as opportunities for improvement.

The results revealed Providence had near perfect scores in the categories of ‘Structures and Functions Necessary for Cultural Change’ and ‘Human Interactions, Independence, Dignity and Choice’. The hospital also scored well in categories of ‘Family Involvement’, ‘Integrative Therapies’ and ‘Healthy Communities’.

An example of an area of opportunity was ‘Environment, Architecture and Design’. In this category, participants suggested better wayfinding in Providence Hospital since people were having difficulty finding their way. Ideas for growth included patient and family-directed visiting hours and improving patient access to better understand their medical record.

Overall, Providence received a score of 33 out of 48, which would position the organization for a bronze designation. Planetree provided suggestions on how Providence can improve in all areas. The opening of the new palliative care unit marked the implementation of several of these recommendations.

“We look forward to seeing the results of the next measurement of our patient experience,” says Walsh. “The depth and scope of our work to improve patient care has been professionally rewarding for our staff, and most importantly elevates the care experience our patients and their families receive to a new level. It is an exciting and fulfilling time for all involved at Providence.”

Patti Enright is the Corporate Communications Manager at Providence Healthcare and Steering Committee Member for the Providence Experience Project.



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