Serese Selanders believes being involved in the care of her loved one is a valuable experience. Selanders is a member of Saskatoon Health Region’s Client and Family Centred Care Steering Committee. “Being part of rounds literally felt like winning the lottery,” she says. “My brothers and I could not believe it! Even though we understood only a fraction of what was said, we valued every minute. The doctors were fantastic in repositioning it in a way we could understand, as well as answering our questions. There were times when the doctors and nurses asked our opinion! We were so grateful.” Selanders shared her family’s health-care experience with participants at the Patient, Client and Family Centred Care Workshops.

The workshops marked another milestone in the Health Region’s progression towards a more client and family centred care approach to health care. The Region hosted the workshops in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. The workshops allowed health-care leaders and providers to discuss patient, client and family centred care. Approximately 800 participants representing 11 of Saskatchewan’s regional health authorities as well as regulatory bodies, academic institutions and unions attended the three-day event.

Panelists Norm and Ev Moisan, Pam Beatty and Barbara Kaluzy shared their stories with workshop participants.

The workshops were facilitated by faculty from the Institute of Patient and Family Centered Care which is a non-profit organization based out of Bethesda, Maryland. Faculty included Bev Johnson, Dr. Bill Schwab, Juliette, Schlucter and Marilyn Oelfke.

Sixteen patients and families shared their stories using a panel format. Each individual was asked to share experiences that were helpful or supportive to them as a patient or family as well as sharing examples of situations which were not positive. The panellists then shared advice on what would have improved their experience. Messages focused strongly on effective communication and collaboration.

The workshops challenged participants to consider how they can change their practice to improve the patient, client or family experience. Further they were asked to consider system changes that would transform the care experience. What are we currently doing that is helpful and supportive to the patients and families and what can we do better? Are we actively engaging and listening to patients and families in our day-to-day practice?

Saskatoon Health Region has made client and family centred care a priority since 2005 when the Maternal and Child Health Service Team first initiated changes to the units to be more centred around the needs of the patient and family. This included the creation of a family advisory council. In 2007, a Regional Client and Family Centred Care Steering Committee was established. The committee has client and family representatives as well as Health Region staff and physicians. The committee goal is to lead the Region “to fundamentally change our relationship with clients and families so that there is more choice, more personalized care, and real empowerment and involvement of people to improve their health.”