Four employees in an office looking at the camera, smiling

Getting ready for discharge.  Patient and Family Advisory Councils at Sinai Health provide input on projects that improve the care experience.

Patient and family engagement has a central role in improving health outcomes while also improving patient experience.  At Sinai Health, patients and family caregivers are invited and encouraged to be involved in the design and delivery of care. They participate in a variety of activities including planning, evaluation, research and training.

“We have a long-standing commitment to partnering with patients and families. Our advisors, some of whom are members of our Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) across the organization, share invaluable perspectives that support further improvements,” says Jennifer Ridgway, manager, Patient Experience and Engagement, Sinai Health.

In the fall of 2021, Sinai Health launched two new program-specific PFACs, one for the Department of Psychiatry and one for Women’s and Infants’ Health. PFACs are comprised of up to 10 members including two co-chairs, one of whom is a patient, or family caregiver.

“Essential to having a successful PFAC is about authentic engagement discussing emerging issues and having that level of trust where we share what is going well and what areas may need revisiting,” says Jennifer. “When we have those actionable items and we move forward with their ideas, suggestions and practical advice, our PFAC members feel they are heard.”

One example of impact is advising on ways to encourage participation in the Ontario Perception of Care survey, a tool used to measure patient satisfaction in mental health treatment settings. Based on the recommendation of the Department of Psychiatry PFAC, the care team began giving out the survey a few days before patients’ discharge dates. This allowed them time to discuss how the feedback will be used to improve the design and delivery of care with patients and caregivers.

The Women’s and Infants’ Health PFAC advised on various initiatives including bedside reporting, the use of more inclusive language and different approaches to ensure all families feel welcome and supported. For example, when discussing infant feeding, teams use the terms breast feeding or chest feeding, and patients are asked about their preferred name for the whiteboard in their room.

“It’s an honour to bring my perspective to the group and to share in meeting the needs of the hospital community by improving the overall patient experience and care provided for all at Mount Sinai,” says Danielle Froio, co-chair, Women’s and Infants’ Health PFAC.

Both PFACs advised on enhancing communications during transitions in care, providing feedback about the information they felt was most important to discuss with their care teams.