March 6, 2023

Shared Decision Making: How partnering with consumers creates best outcomes

The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards provide a nationally consistent statement of the level of care consumers can expect from health service organisations. The primary aims of the Standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision.

Standard 2: Partnering with Consumers, together with Standard 1: Clinical Governance, underpin the principles and expectations of the eight NSQHS Standards. The standard recognises the importance of involving patients in their own care and providing clear communication to them, as part of shared decision-making and person-centred care.

“In health care decision-making we need to consider the health care options – the pros and cons of treatment, the patient, and what is important to them. Bringing these together creates shared decision-making and results in the best decision for the patient,” said the Shared Decision Making and Consent Standard 2 Subcommittee Chair, Anne Marie Fabri.

Anne Marie met with Northern Health patient, Verdiana Filippi, to explore her experience of shared decision-making.

Verdiana was diagnosed with breast cancer following the discovery of a breast lump.

As Verdiana talked about her journey from diagnosis to treatment, she described multiple occasions where clinicians engaged in shared decision-making, enabling Verdiana to partner with clinicians in decision-making.

Verdiana was able to make decisions for herself, in the context of her values and life circumstances. Trustworthy clinicians and trustworthy communications were important components of Verdiana’s care.

“I never felt overwhelmed, and they never used huge words that I can’t understand. If I don’t understand something I always asked. I never felt like they were not telling me things, not saying everything they should have said,” said Verdiana.

The surgeon explained the recommended surgery, showed Verdiana pictures of proposed surgeries and provided information to read later.

“He made sure he went through everything to make it as easy as possible,” she said.

By sharing her fears about needles and asking about options for minimising needle punctures, she felt listened to by staff who found ways to work with her on this.

“The person in charge, she looked after me like I was her own daughter. I told her I am very scared of needles. I asked if there’s a chance they can put in a cannula and do a blood test from there.  She spoke to one of the nurses and did everything in one go and so I just had one needle,” said Verdiana.

“The Breast Care Nurse came to see me just before the operation and she bought me a little bag of things and she asked, “Are you okay?” and, “Is there anything I can do?” So that makes you feel very looked after… and if I had any question, there was someone there I could ask for.”

Staff took the time to get to know Verdiana, learn what is important to her, what worried her and earnt her trust.

“All the people made me feel very taken care of and confident. I never felt rushed. They took their time, and they were compassionate, and they always made me feel like a normal person; not a sick patient,” she said.

To find out more about Northern ‘Standard 2 Partnering with Consumers’ at Northern Health, click here

Featured image: Verdiana Filippi