By Vanessa Broadbent
A new patient advisory committee at South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH) is aiming to help health care workers see their “blind spots.”
Sara Evans, Acute Care Manager with Interior Health, is a member of the committee which will give hospital administration direct access to feedback from patients.
“In health care, sometimes you’re so focussed on what you do and you don’t know what your blind spots are so you need the people who are receiving the service to help give you that diverse perspective,” she said.
“For us on the administration side, we’re very grateful because there’s no other way to get that patient perspective, that family perspective.”
The committee, which started meeting in December, acts as a voice for patients and families, but also as consultants for Interior Health.
Evans said the committee will help hospital administration in developing things such as signage, pet policies and other “really straightforward things that feel like common sense” to health care workers, but might not be as obvious to patients and visitors.
The committee includes three members – a former patient, a volunteer and one whose family has been in care at the hospital – that meet with hospital administration.
Initially the group met monthly but Evans said that going forward, meetings will be four or five times a year, or as needed when administration needs feedback on projects.
The first few meetings were spent formalizing the committee, completing terms of reference and guidelines.
“Now we’re working on actual stuff, we’re putting our teeth into things,” Evans said.
So far, the committee has helped reorganize the beds in the hospital, making it easier for family to stay overnight.
They’re also currently helping with a project that will see whiteboards with information for patients and their families installed by every bed.
Input from the committee included what should appear on the boards and how far away from the bed it should be.
“It sounds small but otherwise you try it with patients and oftentimes you have to make quite a lot of modifications,” Evans said. “We hope we’ll be closer to getting it right by having this feedback from the beginning.”
Currently in the works is “Did You Know?”, a project aiming to increase knowledge about SOGH through news releases and posters.
The committee was inspired by one of the same at the Penticton Regional Hospital, formed in 2017 and the first of its kind in the province.
Both have the same administrator, Carl Meadows, who Evans said was a “driving force” in starting the committees. The one at SOGH is similar to the one in Penticton, just on a smaller scale.
“The great opportunity for SOGH having a PAC is that many decisions around services, planning and design require patient feedback,” Meadows said.
“We now have a better feedback system that includes Physicians, staff, volunteers, patients and elected officials. This ensures we are making decisions with different perspectives.”
For now, the committee will continue to operate as is and changes will be made as needed.
“Right now we’re at the right size. We’re testing out our processes and trying to get the right amount of meetings per year and all that kind of stuff,” Evans said.
“This is extremely valuable and we’re very grateful to the committee members for their willingness to participate.”