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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Advancing Patient- and Family- Centered Care

Advancing Patient- and Family- Centered Care

November 5, 2014

Patient and Family-Centered Care Conference

The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC), an organization that works with health care providers to advance the practice of patient- and family-centered care, is currently holding a 3 ½-day seminar in Cambridge.  Hundreds of individuals from across the U.S. and Canada have come together this week to discuss how they have worked or are planning to work on making their care more patient- and family-centered. Those attending the conference include health care providers, but also many patient and family advisors.  As the first, and only, state to mandate that all hospitals have Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) this seminar is a wonderful opportunity for PFAC members (patients, family members, and staff) to learn from others and bring what they learn back to their PFACs. 

With many interesting and varied workshops, it has been hard to pick which ones to attend. One workshop I attended featured the CEO of Contra Costa Medical Center in California, along with a PFAC member from the medical center, speaking about their experiences changing the culture and implementing concrete changes at the hospital in response to patient and family input. The hospital has worked to put faces and names to statistics, to be transparent and make it easier for members of the public to access information about the hospital (with, among other things, community “report backs” held monthly in the hospital lobby, and televised, and held in two other parts of the county, at which medical errors and defects are discussed), and to develop true partnerships with advisors (they refer to the advisors as partners and use the term “health care partnership” instead of patient and family advisory council and advisors/partners are on various hospital committees and teams).  They do not make any decisions without patients/families involved. Two patient/family members are on the executive team and are involved in all major decisions at the hospital.

Another workshop focused on end-of-life care. Representatives from the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Canada, and from University of Washington Medical Center spoke about how they involve bereaved patients and families in their efforts to improve care provided to patients and support provided to families at the end of life.  Some examples are bereavement packages provided to families after a loved one has passed away in the hospital, compassion carts with food and other comforting items for families of patients, the development of a Palliative Weaning Algorithm with bereaved family members’ input regarding extubation, and more. The University of Washington Medical Center has developed Comfort Care Classes for its staff. These are 2-day continuing education classes on how to provide comfort care, and one component of the session involves advisors sharing their stories.

There are many providers and patient and family advisors in hospitals across North America working together to improve care, and it is exciting to spend this week hearing from them and gathering information to share with PFACs in Massachusetts. ​

   - Deb Wachenheim