Healthy Living in the North

Sharing stories: “What matters to you?” events help improve health care

Andrea Goodine, NE Quality Improvement Coach, and Edwina Nearhood, Patient Partner, celebrating What Matters to You Day.

Andrea Goodine, NE Quality Improvement Coach, and Edwina Nearhood, Patient Partner, celebrating What Matters to You Day in Fort St John.

Asking patients “What matters to you?” can lead to valuable feedback that helps improve health care.

When Edwina Nearwood, a patient partner with Patient Voices Network (PVN), heard about the “What matters to you?” initiative put on by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council (BCPSQC), she knew it was the perfect opportunity for patients and care providers to share their stories.

In the words of the BCPSQC, “when providers have a conversation about what really matters to the people they care for, it helps them ensure that care is aligned with patient preferences and provide more patient- and family-centred care.”

With the support and guidance of Northern Health Quality Improvement leads and former PVN Engagement Leader Anthony Gagne, Edwina arranged an event at the Fort St. John Hospital in June 2017.

“People came to the hospital specifically to share their stories,” she says. “They wanted Northern Health to learn from their experiences and update practice.”

The event was attended by many patients and care providers, who talked about what was important to them, as well as any concerns they had.

Northern Health leaders in Fort St. John were extremely receptive to the feedback, and created an action plan with quality improvement initiatives. One example of improved service was a better system of prioritization in the radiology department that resulted in more timely service to patients.

Viva Swanson, Patient Partner, and Andrea Goodine, NE Quality Improvement Coach, with a cart full of swag for What Matters to You Day.

Viva Swanson, Patient Partner, and Andrea Goodine, NE Quality Improvement Coach, preparing for What Matters to You Day in Fort St John.

Continuing the success from 2017, Edwina and other patient partners, including Viva Swanson, hosted their own “What matters to you?” event in Fort St. John in June 2018.  Once again, the response from patients and care providers was very positive.

“Patients, residents, family, visitors, staff, and physicians were quite curious and interested in hearing the story behind it,” says Swanson. “The branding of the campaign inspired people to ask what was going on and the ‘why’ behind it.”

Patient partners are tremendously important in improving the way Northern Health delivers care. Events such as “What matters to you?” open the dialogue and improve communication between health care providers and patients.

While Edwina has already had great success in hosting these events, she knows there’s still room to grow. Her goals are to collaborate with doctors and other health care providers to grow “What matters to you?” conversations to the point where they become second nature.

For more information on “What matters to you?”, visit the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council website at www.bcpsqc.ca.

Tamara Reichert

About Tamara Reichert

Tamara is the communications advisor for the innovation and development commons at Northern Health where she works on a number of projects with the research, quality improvement, clinical simulation, and education teams. Born and raised in Prince George, Tamara grew up on a ranch where she rode horses, played with farm animals, built forts, and raided the family garden. She enjoys spending time travelling, hiking, cooking, reading, and cheering for her favourite sports teams.

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