Leading the Patient Experience Initiative at GGH

Whether or not you realize it, if you have visited Guelph General Hospital over the last two years you have benefitted from the Patient Experience Initiative.

A dedicated working group of six staff meet weekly to examine how to improve the experience patients and their families have through any and all interactions with the Hospital.

This may seem like an impossibly broad scope of work and a very lofty aim, however group member Joyce Rolph, Senior Director of Patient Services, explains, “The Patient Experience Initiative is an overarching philosophy, an ethic of practice which encompasses all of what we do here every day. We are simply saying out loud for everyone that we are dedicated to making a visit to GGH the best possible experience for patients and their families.” That sentiment is captured in the initiative’s tag line, “Our Patients, Their Families, OUR PARTNERS.”

Information about patient experiences has been gathered through a variety of survey methods and interviews. Last December, real-time surveys began by specially trained volunteers who are visiting units with a set of questions and spending lots of one-on-one time with patients and families. This gets an in-the-moment sense of what are our patients and their families are experiencing.

Having families as partners is a key focus. This can result in better outcomes for patients, lessening discomfort and reducing readmission rates.  The working group has been trying to learn from family members how it felt to be a support person in the Hospital; Were you and your loved one listened to? What made you comfortable? How did we partner with you? Were you prepared for choices you had to make? How do you feel about any wait times you may have experienced? Patients were asked similar questions.

“When community members engage with the Hospital, we strive to ensure those interactions are high-quality, respectful, empathetic, safe and informed. We want every patient to have all of the information they need to give consent to the next steps in their care. We need their choices to be communicated thoroughly,” says Joyce. She continues, “Essentially, we want to assist all staff to zero in on what they can do to improve patient and family member interactions with our Hospital.”

Using the feedback provided by patients and their families about what staff did to make their experiences positive will help raise the bar for caregiving excellence at GGH. This feedback will make its way into the daily practices of the 1,400+ staff through the hiring process itself and through ongoing staff huddles. A key aim for this dedicated working group is to make it more transparent to staff how best to improve interactions with their patients and families.

It is clear that improving the patient experience is a key strategic direction for Guelph General Hospital.  The multiple areas of work overseen by the working group of the Patient Experience Initiative will create a real and lasting impact for members of our community.