“We’re better together."
Angela Morin is eager to continue building capacity for patient engagement at Kingston Health Sciences Centre
Angela Morin was deeply bothered when she watched a dear friend sit for three long hours, in terrible pain, in a hospital waiting room nine years ago.
“I thought ‘how can this be happening,’” she recalls. “Everything was revolving around the hospital and its processes, not my suffering friend. When she passed away, I considered becoming a patient advocate but realized that would only be about navigating a broken system instead of actually fixing it.”
So she explored the fix option, a decision that has now landed her in the role of Lead for Patient and Family-Centred Care (PFCC) at KHSC.
Along the way she has built solid PFCC credentials: eight years as a Patient Experience Advisor at the KGH site; a three-year stint as co-chair of the Patient & Family Advisory Council; patient advisor work with numerous healthcare organizations at the provincial and national levels including as a founding member of a national Patient Advisor Network; and a pioneering role with the Canadian Foundation of Healthcare Improvement helping to build its internal capacity for patient engagement.
At KHSC she sees herself as having a unique perspective to share in providing support, coaching and patient engagement resources for all those working to build positive patient partnerships including Patient Experience Advisors (PEAs), front-line staff, physicians and corporate leaders.
“I believe my job is to facilitate relationship building and communication,” says Angela.
“There can be organizational and systematic challenges that PEAs don’t know about, for instance, or gaps in patient care that leaders can’t see. Having patients engaged in decisions that impact the patient experience changes the conversation, helps to prioritize what is of value to patients and families and challenges the status quo.”
In many respects, she says, KHSC is a recognized leader in PFCC, but with research increasingly underlining the value of patient engagement it’s important to continue sharing, learning and evolving. That means breaking new ground in how we engage with patients, a key direction in KHSC’s Transforming care, together strategy.
“It’s vital to include the patient voice at the beginning of a project, not when the cake is almost fully baked,” she emphasizes. “We have to find different methods of embedding patient engagement through the course of an entire project and in long-term sustainability plans.
“We also need to hear the voices of those individuals who have traditionally not been heard, particularly those in underserved communities. They have lived experience that we can learn from to provide a quality health and care experience for all. We need to be creative about getting outside of our walls and building trust and partnerships.”
Many methods can help us to embed patient engagement at all levels of KHSC, and we need to ensure they’re purposeful, meaningful and authentic to everyone involved, says Angela.
“We’re better together,” she says, “When we have our eye on a common goal and move toward it in a meaningful, respectful and purposeful way we create an energy that’s very powerful in connecting people to each other and their work.”
That’s what has been driving her since that waiting room experience 9 years ago.
“Engaging patients and families at all levels of the organization is the right thing to do but not always the easy thing to do,” she says. “I’m excited to have this opportunity to help cultivate an organizational culture that continues to enable and take pride in delivering consistent and exemplary Patient- and Family-Centred Care.”