At SickKids 2011
Health care is about more than making diagnoses and delivering treatments. It’s about people – the intricate, dynamic relationships that grow between health-care professionals and patients and their families. A strong and positive relationship builds the trust and communication which are so necessary to create the respectful environment needed for the best health outcomes.
With the recent launch of our Child and Family Relations service, and corresponding Values and Expectations, SickKids has taken another step toward strengthening the partnerships that are central to our ideal of family-centred care.
The Child and Family Relations service and Values and Expectations fulfill the requirements of both the Excellent Care for All Act and the Occupational Health & Safety Act. Both acts provided SickKids with an excellent opportunity to take a step back and look at how we are delivering service and what we could do differently to improve the experience for our patients and families.
Replacing the Patient Representative Service, the Child and Family Relations program offers patients and families a way to voice and resolve their concerns. The service is based on a transparent, timely and collaborative process, developed through consultation with patients, families, staff members and considering the practices of other hospitals in North America and the United Kingdom.
Child and Family Relations will play an important role in coaching and educating SickKids staff through the resolution process, and providing guidance and assistance to staff when requested or required.
The foundation of our new Child and Family Relations service is evident in our refreshed Values and Expectations. The Values and Expectations outline both the role of SickKids and the roles patients and families play in achieving a beneficial care experience. It recognizes that each party has a responsibility to the other in creating an open and respectful environment where the best care can be provided and positive health outcomes actively and mutually pursued.
Through the monitoring of trends and issues, Child and Family Relations will also be able to provide essential data in identifying larger, hospital-wide concerns.
The service is based on a proactive model of managing most issues at the point of contact with appropriate pathways for escalation. Every concern or compliment will be seen as an opportunity for learning that will contribute to continuous quality improvement, and an exceptional patient and family experience.
SickKids is privileged to serve patients and families who come to us from around the world. Toronto is a multi-cultural city, with over 190 languages spoken in the GTA. As a hospital committed to providing quality, family-centred care, it is our duty to ensure we continually enhance our interactions with patients and their families in a way that recognizes and embraces the diversity of linguistic and cultural backgrounds and beliefs. In fact, our recent review by Accreditation Canada made particular note of our efforts to promote cultural competence – a service excellence accomplishment I am very proud to report.
In 2009, Citizenship and Immigration Canada funded the SickKids New Immigrant Support Network (NISN). Focused on two key priorities, cultural competence training for SickKids staff and the translation of many of our core health and consent documents, the work done by the NISN in collaboration with AboutKidsHealth and others has helped SickKids to become a leader in how cultural competence can be implemented in the health-care environment.
This month, we launched our new multi-lingual website for AboutKidsHealth.ca. We now provide patients and their families with accurate health information in English, French and Chinese (simplified character set). About 300 specific patient education documents will also be available in Arabic, Chinese (traditional character set), Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu. Over the coming months, we will also be introducing eight on-site state-of-the-art touch-screen kiosks with directional information to guide visitors to SickKids in all of the above languages.
About 2,000 SickKids staff have attended workshops to deepen their understanding of health inequity and health disparities, the social determinants of health and stressors experienced by new immigrant families. But the workshops go further than just understanding: participants have learned about the role that culture plays in interactions between health-care staff and patients and families. Self-reflection exercises and written commitments to change have helped us to apply what we have learned in the workshops in our relations with patients and their families.
Research has shown that education about cultural competence works. Since the NISN project launched its cultural competence workshops, we have seen a significant increase in relevant metrics, including patient satisfaction. Asked “Were hospital staff members sensitive to your (your child's) special cultural needs or concerns?” in our patient satisfaction survey, respondents’ approval has increased from 70 per cent in 2009 to 76 per cent in 2010.
To share the cultural competence resources developed at SickKids, we are offering train-the-trainer workshops for health-care organizations across Ontario that wish to implement similar programs in their own environments. A high level of interest has been expressed in these workshops and we have added more dates to accommodate the organizations interested in sending representatives.
Our health-care system is complex, a daunting network of care locations, specialists and medical interventions. For new Canadians who may also be struggling with the burden of language and cultural barriers, it can be overwhelming.
At SickKids, we do our best to embrace the diversity of all the families we serve, to ensure a positive care experience. After all, healthier children do make a better world.