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Quality & Safety - Patient and family centred care

A column by Maureen Flynn

This month’s column focuses on a practical example of partnering with families and patients. During a recent visit to the Patient and Family Centred Care (PFCC) Innovation Centre I had the opportunity to visit the intensive care unit (ICU) at Magee-Womens Hospital (University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre). Here I learned about how the team views all care as an experience ‘through the eyes of the patient and family’.

What is a patient and family centred care?
Internationally, patient and family-centred care, as a concept, is described as healthcare that is compassionate, includes patients and families as partners and collaborators, is provided with respect, and treats patients and families with dignity. It is care that revolves around the needs and desires of patients and families rather than around the organisations and systems in which it is provided.

In Ireland the National Healthcare Charter, You and Your Health Service, sets out the commitment by the HSE describing:

  • What patients and families can expect when using health services in Ireland
  • What patients and families can do to help Irish health services to deliver more effective and safe services.

The charter has a common goal – aiming to inform and empower people to actively look after their own health and to influence the quality of healthcare in Ireland. The charter describes patient centred care as care that is based on eight principles: access, dignity and respect, safe and effective services, communication and information, participation, privacy, improving health, and accountability.

Patient and family centred care: ‘All About Me’
The ICU team at Magee-Womens Hospital used the PFCC methodology to understand what it is like to be cared for in ICU by ‘shadowing’ patients and family members. Rather than talking impersonally about patients as ‘bed number’, they wanted to personalise care for patients who often cannot talk as they are ventilated.

The PFCC Project Team with representatives from all touchpoints developed a simple poster with prompts which is displayed at each patient’s bed (see Figure 1). This is completed by the family and helps staff in getting to know the patient on a personal level.

Based on poster at Magee-Womens Hospital, which encourages patient, family and friends to share information, pictures, etc about the patient’s life

This co-design between staff, patients and families is about making things good (and then better) and right (and fantastic) for the people who use and encounter them.

Opportunity to get involved
The PFCC Innovation Centre recommends thinking about PFCC as a circle that never ends as opposed to a straight line that goes from start to finish and thinking about ‘project improvement teams’ as mini ‘tornadoes’ of change.

Could you use the ‘All About Me’ in your area of practice? The PFCC team advocate ‘borrowing brilliantly’ and ‘sharing splendidly’ by providing resources, to accelerate the adoption and spread of PFCC projects and impact more patients, families and caregivers along the way. Check out the website for further details at www.pfcc.org or email info@pfcc.org

For more information on the visit contact Maureen Flynn, at maureena.flynn@hse.ie

To learn more about Irish resources for patient and family centred care, visit the National Advocacy Unit section of the HSE website at www.hse.ie/eng/about/Who/qualityandpatientsafety/nau

Maureen Flynn is the director of nursing (national lead for quality and safety governance development) at the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director, Quality and Patient Safety Division, HSE

A special thanks to Michelle Giarrusso, Director Patient and Family Centered Care Innovation Centre UPMC and Lauren Gorman, ICU Manager Magee-Womens Hospital for their very warm welcome, generosity in sharing experiences and their assistance in preparing this column.

Quality & Safety - Patient and family centred care
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