March 4, 2020

Partnering with our consumers – Maureen Canzano

Maureen Canzano is a Northern Health Consumer involved with many projects and initiatives, including Patient Experience Consumer Advisory Committee (PECAC) and Choosing Wisely, and she advises our health professionals on understanding the patients and establishing a connection. Her professional experience is in social work, as she spent four years at DHHS. For the last eight years she has been working in adult education space.

Maureen has a daughter with disability. After her daughter was treated at Northern Health, Maureen decided to become involved in the consumer network and explore the ways to improve patient experience.

“Being with others, getting something done, seeing achievements and the satisfaction of contributing to making things better is what motivates me,” she said.

Maureen is passionate in helping medical staff understand disability. She makes her own, personal experiences open to sharing and learning from. For example, how to engage with a person in your care – simple things can make a difference to the person’s experience.

“My daughter is absolutely terrified of hospitals and I have taught staff to take the time to engage with her to reduce acute stress and fear. One specific example of this is discovering that my daughter’s favourite coffee table book on Graceland must come into hospital with her. When staff look at her book and ask questions, this greatly helps with connections and calms her down,” she said.

Maureen thinks it is great for consumers to be involved as it helps them understand the dynamic environment of a health service, and increases the appreciation of the work staff do.

“As consumers, we have gained insights into the staff perspective, and this leads to greater understanding of the connections between teams, carers, patients and staff,” she said.

Last year, Maureen was involved in the Family Violence forum and the Choosing Wisely conference, both of which were great learning experiences.

“The Choosing Wisely conference at the MCG was very important and I felt very grateful for the opportunity to attend this through my consumer work at Northern Health,” she said.

Maureen is a great ambassador for ‘Choosing Wisely’ and the ‘5 questions’ and she feels that it opens discussion with doctors, and reduces stress for the patient and family.

“I have used this on a number of occasions in relation to my daughter’s care and it had great results. Using the 5 questions meant my daughter could have follow ups with her regular GP, rather than having to come back to the hospital for follow up – an excellent outcome given my daughters fear of  the hospital environment,” she explained.