Keeping a Patient’s Family at the Center of Care
What’s making the difference? Parents.
The entire Brenner staff—from doctors to volunteers—has been working to reorganize the way it delivers health care around the concept of patient- and family-centered care.
At Brenner, parents are valued as experts on their own children. They’re included in the patient care team, working with medical experts and specialists to ensure that their children receive the best possible care, and their opinions are helping to transform care throughout the children’s hospital.
“This is a great opportunity for us to look at the way we practice medicine. We have the opportunity to partner with patients and families in new ways to improve our quality of care, to design our processes around what’s most effective for them,” says Barnes.
Including Parents in Children’s Care
Another important step is helping parents in an environment where they can feel helpless. When children are ill, the care that parents typically provide becomes the responsibility of someone else. It can be an alienating, frustrating experience. That’s why Brenner has made a commitment to teach parents how they can be involved in as many aspects of their children’s care as they are comfortable with.
Whenever possible, staff take time to teach parents how they can continue to give everyday care while their child is at Brenner, as well as ways parents can participate in clinical procedures. These inclusive practices help parents to feel connected to their children, and help children to feel less anxious throughout treatment.
Marty Scott, MD, vice president of Brenner Children’s Hospital, explains, “It’s very important to provide that stability—to let kids know that their mom and dad are still caring for them and that the nurses and doctors are partnering with their parents to help them get well.”
When the care environment is designed with the child’s experience in mind, children are able to undergo procedures with less fear and anxiety, which can lead to faster treatment and better clinical outcomes.
A Parent on Every Committee
Brenner’s Family Advisory Council was created to help hospital staff partner with parents on a formal basis. The council comprises 12 to 15 parents and staff members who meet regularly to discuss education, programming, projects and the patient experience. Members of the hospital staff look to parents in these meetings to share their experiences—both good and bad—in order to balance clinical perspectives on care.
“We would love to see patients and families on every existing hospital committee,” says Barnes. “How impactful for staff, to have a mom standing up in front of them and teaching from the family’s perspective. That’s a message.”
And it’s not just parents who are being enlisted to educate staff. This year, Brenner is launching its Youth Advisory Council, inviting former and current patients and siblings ages 10 to 18 to help Brenner better understand patient care from the child’s perspective. Topics might range from taste-testing healthy snacks in the cafeteria to addressing the experience of siblings.
© 2013 Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center | Office of Development and Alumni Affairs | P.O. Box 571021 | Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1021 | All Rights Reserved.