Embedding patient experience into healthcare

27 April 2022

Ensuring the patient perspective is embedded into how we care for patients across NSW is a core function of the Clinical Excellence Commission's Partnering with People Panel. The value of this work is highlighted in programs such as Top 5 and End of Life where significant focus on human experience in dementia and palliative care has been achieved.

Clinical Excellence Commission Director of Capability and Culture Karen Patterson said patient experience underpins all the organisation's work and is central to a safe health care system. The CEC's People Panel enables consumers to share their experiences and perspectives as they collaborate in the design and development of safety and improvement programs.

Patient Experience Week, April 25 to 29, is a time dedicated to celebrating health workers who impact the patient experience every day and it also the ideal opportunity to ensure the excellent clinical care being offered in hospitals is also patient centred and provides a voice for consumers.

"Of course, we want patients receiving safe and reliable clinical care but just as importantly, we want families, carers and patient's experience of that care to be positive," Ms Patterson said.

"Our People Panel members bring diverse voices and experiences and by involving them in the development of programs that are subsequently used widely across hospitals we start to see a cultural shift towards recognising the importance of what matters to patients and responding to that through more human centred care being offered in our hospitals."

People Partner Mary Borg was inspired to become an advocate for patient experience after caring for her father during his dementia illness. Her work with the CEC has included helping to develop human centred programs Top 5 and End of Life.

"I'd worked as a teacher all my life and when Dad was struggling with dementia I realised if staff could find a way to connect with these patients, similar to how I connected with young students, a lot of the patient's angst and fear could be relieved," Mary said.

"The Top 5 program really plays into that thinking by encouraging health staff and carers to work together to personalise patient care and agree on five 'tips' which will help keep the patient calm, reassured, and engaged.

"The tips can include things like sharing details of favourite pets or people, known fears and information about calming and happy memories. We worked on Top 5 as people partners for about three years – really refining the program and getting it working to improve patient experience in a range of healthcare facilities across NSW."

Ms Patterson said the End of Life program had been similarly influenced by People Panel members to ensure a patient's last days reflected their wishes and intentions.

The Clinical Excellence Commission has a range of patient centred resources and tools developed in partnership with the People Partners. The resources are designed to support the delivery of human-centred healthcare in varied facilities and support staff capacity to listen and be present with patients, carers and families and improve patient wellbeing.

The resources are routinely adopted in public hospitals in NSW and may also support staff working in private hospitals and other health facilities around the country to provide care which is focused on the patient, their family and carers.