How Parents Are Helping Us Improve Hospital Visits

How do you make a hospital visit better for a child?

To hear the voice of our youngest patients, we recruit parent volunteers to participate in patient advisory boards and councils, and they help us see the care experience through our patients’ eyes.

At Fairview Ridges Hospital, a new council made of families with experience in the neonatal intensive care unit has begun with a promising start.

“Starting this council will allow us to create unique and intentional changes for better care,” says Amy Feeder, child family life supervisor at Fairview Ridges. “I’m excited for the possibilities to come with these dedicated and enthusiastic parents.”

Groups like this are growing due to the success of other long-standing councils from across Fairview, especially those at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital (UMMCH).

Change for the better

Carla Olson, director of behavioral services at UMMCH, and her team used to explain the details of a child’s care plan to parents during the first appointment. Though it seemed like a best practice, she now sees it differently thanks to input from the Pediatric Behavioral Patient Advisory Board at UMMCH.

Parents on the advisory board told Carla’s team how difficult it was to process the details of a care plan due to the anxiety they felt during their first appointment. Today, the team provides copies of the plan at the time of the appointment, but only talks through the details during a follow-up call the next day.

“Getting the families’ perspectives is valuable and eye-opening,” Carla says. “It’s helped our staff to be better partners with patients.”

How councils work

Pediatric patient advisory councils typically have equal numbers of parents and providers. Meeting agendas range from hearing parents’ experiences to seeking their opinions on new proposals or programs.

“Staff members come to get feedback and input on items like facility planning, new program development, services or initiatives,” says Lauren Johnson, director of patient and family support services and community relations at UMMCH.

Wisdom for providers

Parents’ perspective is so valuable to providers that Lauren makes sure medical residents hear from them early on in their residency.

“We want parents to educate our health care teams,” Lauren says. “It’s invaluable to have the opportunity to hear about patients’ experiences and perceptions.”

Passion from parents

Parents on the councils take pride in their contributions and their role in helping future patients and families.

“I participate to be a voice for my children, our family and other families,” says Bo Moore, a parent on the Pediatric Medical Patient Advisory Board at UMMCH. “Since joining almost six years ago, I have seen many suggestions come to fruition within the hospital, which validates how much the hospital supports and appreciates us. I am so proud of the work we’ve done.”

 

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