Thursday, November 7, 2013


Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care

Gentle, compassionate, caring, warm, friendly, kind are just some of the ways patients and their families describe the care they receive at hospitals that are patient and family centered. The skills of the medical team seem to never be addressed.  It is the way people are treated that we remember.  We expect when flying in a plane to get to the destination. So, when the service is extraordinary, the staff friendly and the seating  comfortable, that’s what stands out.  The same goes for hospitals, clinics and at doctor’s offices.  Ask almost anyone what they think of their doctor and they will tell you they like him / her because they are nice, listen or are friendly. 

I had the opportunity to hear similar stories at the IPFCC conference held in Minnesota last week.  It was uplifting, educational and moving.  It was a week of learning ideas that “work” or have worked to make a hospital patient and family centered.  Making for better outcomes often is based on communication and the better communication, feeling of acceptance, respect and treated with dignity builds relationships.  Honest, open relationships can mean better outcomes.

One woman shared the story of going to radiation with a friend and they dressed up in costumes.  (An appropriate story for Halloween eve).  Soon the others receiving radiation were also dressing up in costumes and instead of no one talking to each other, at each treatment there was laughter and friendship.  The presentation ended with a slide show of patients in costumes hugging and laughing.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room of over 400 people.
What does patient centeredness mean?  It was a common theme of medical professionals, patients and family members at this conference.  Most were representing patient and family advisory councils where the patient or the family members of patients come together and talk about improvements to the hospitals or healthcare system they use. 

Visiting policy, the human touch, talking eye to eye, how patients share their stories were some additional topics.   Work groups were formed over lunch to develop an action plan helping to move each person’s or groups agenda forward. 
Breakfast roundtables were for researchers, PFAC members, nurses, social workers or any group you may want to start, a sign would be ready at a table for you.  Patient and family centeredness can mean something different to anyone, or it can mean a lot to one.

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