Patient Experience Symposium April 2018

Principal partners, Agency for Clinical Innovation and Clinical Excellence Commission, were delighted that this year's event qualified for the Patients Included status by ensuring that patients were included in designing and implementing the program, as well as being provided with free registration at the Patient Experience Symposium.

Dynamic Master of Ceremonies, Luke Escombe, award winning singer-songwriter, blues guitarist, comedian and health advocate was uniquely placed to host the event, commenting on patient experience with knowledge, tact and humour. His keynote address, accompanied by his ever present guitar, had the audience laughing with tears of joy and sadness. His final song was an emotional ballad describing the compassionate, kind and high quality care he received during his recent hospital stay.

Symposium welcomes were given by The Honourable Brad Hazzard MP (Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research), The Honourable Tanya Davies MP (Minister for Mental Health, Ageing and Women) with the Welcome to Country given by respected Sydney elder Uncle Chicka from the Gadigal clan. Jean-Frederique Levesque (CE, ACI) and Carrie Marr (CE, CEC) added their welcome to the audience, committing their agencies to improving the patient, carer and family experience.

Keynote addresses were varied, consumer focussed and very well received by the audience.

Vic McEwan of the CAD factory gave an eye opening presentation about the soundscape of hospital care, describing the sounds that are usually not acknowledged but can affect patients’ rest and recovery. He told a truly moving story of recording the heartbeat of a 17 year old woman in palliative care.

Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri man, revealed his battle with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder throughout his life. His battle with his inner voice, alcohol and drugs was revealed within a career in the NRL and professional boxing. Joe stressed the importance of talking to other people when you feel down, remaining optimistic in the face of adversity and his connection with his aboriginal heritage.

Doris Zagdanski, with a career as a grief educator, described her own cancer experience through her photo journaling, showing the importance for her of keeping a visual record of the journey. Her message about empathy was communicated with humour and compassion. She spoke about the importance of listening to the patient and connecting with their pain instead of trying to make them feel better.

The final presentation of the symposium was by Jessica Rowe, a well-known TV presenter and journalist. Jessica revealed her battle with post-natal depression on the background of growing up coping with her mother’s mental illness. Her advice to others was that it is okay to ask for help.

Over the two days, the concurrent sessions, given by staff and consumers, addressed a wide range of aspects of patient experience, including Culture and Diversity, Mental Health, Staff Experience and Wellness and Researching Patient Experience. The 48 oral presentations, 10 workshops and 17 posters told of the huge range of work, mainly across NSW Health, aiming to improve the experience of patients, their carers and families.


The formal evaluation is currently underway.

Initial results show that the symposium was a great success. Some quotes include:

"The balance between consumers and clinicians was excellent"

"Look at taking it to a national level – not just NSW"

"The keynote speakers on the first day were exceptional and profoundly changed my perceptions of the client experience that will stay with me for many years"