December 4, 2018

Patient Experience: Small things matter

Northern Health has commenced on a journey to become a highly reliable organisation, and improving patient experience is one of the key components.

We work in a fast paced, ever changing health environment and sometimes it’s easy to lose track of the small things that matter.

But, what are those things?

Back in 1992, I had an experience as a student midwife that changed the way I thought for the rest of my career. I was looking after a lady having her third baby and I’d delivered less than seven babies as a student midwife.

Post birth, she had a massive haemorrhage and we couldn’t stop the bleeding. She had the first, second, third and the fourth line drugs and treatment, the massive transfusion policy was instigated. She also had emergency surgery and the team saved her life.

Two years later, I was in a supermarket when a lady randomly approached me and hugged me.

She said: “You may not remember me, but thank you”.

She told me her name and the trauma flashed back. I just smiled and said that I was a student and that I was lucky to be part of a great team.

She looked at me puzzled and said: “No, you were the one that mattered the most. You held my hand and you told me it would be okay”

I remember I heard my baby cry and you made the doctor hold her up for me to see.

You were the one that made a difference, you were the one I need to thank”.

I’ve never forgotten that.

Today, leading the Patient Experience work, I often wonder, how do we make it right for everyone?

We are working with several key messages to support the work, with the first one already mentioned:

Small things matter.

The  second key message helps us focus on the things that matter not only to us, but our patients, families and carers.

Ask what matters, hear what matters, do what matters.

The third is probably the hardest of all. It’s a shift from asking our community and family members

“What’s the matter?”  to asking

“What matters to you?”

As clinicians, we sometimes think we have all the answers. We have the technology, state of the art equipment, research and access to practice world class medicine.

We can cure, save lives and alleviate pain.

But is that all our community wants? 

The Patient Experience component of the Trusted Care transformation focuses on moving the words of patient-centred care into translational practice.

There are 13 pieces of work that make up the Trusted Care Patient Experience Strategy. As this work evolves, I encourage you to keep up to date with recent developments and register your interest for work you would like to be involved in.