Working with our patients as partners
A core principle of the Health Care Home is to work with patients as equal partners in their health care and enabling them to contribute to service developments with practice teams. Our Patient Partner Framework reflects a general move to consumerism in many sectors, ensuring patients have more control over the services they receive and how they receive them. Smartphone apps are enabling an increased level of self-management apps and the global shift of care to the virtual space where appropriate is challenging the traditional model of general practice. We have various activities with patients in developing this aspect of the Health Care Home model.
Our Patient Partner Framework involves activity in a number of areas:
Our aim is to have one active in every Health Care Home practice. See below how Tokoroa Medical Centre And Health Te Aroha groups operate and the benefits they are seeing below.
We hold focus groups to dig deeper into the core elements of the Health Care Home from a patient perspective. Recent focus groups with Maori Kaumātua on our Year of Care process identified the need to make improvements in how family and carers are involved in all aspects of communication and care.
A representative group of patients have been critical to the design and development of Indici, our new Patient Information system.
Our framework includes a mixed methodology for working with patients to hear, and act on, their experience of our services. This includes annual surveys and real-time feedback systems in practices.
Health Te Aroha Patient Participation Group
Health Te Aroha, an early adopter of the Health Care Home model of care, is starting the next chapter of their journey with the establishment of their patient participation group (PPG).
The process began towards the end of 2017 with the recruitment of members and by June 2018 the group’s seven members meet monthly. They’ve got a formal constitution in place and have elected a chair, understanding the value of strong leadership.
“Setting up a formal structure for this voluntary group, with a constitution to guide our work, has proved a really valuable part of the process,” says Eileen Joyce, group member. “Understanding our purpose, and how we add value took quite a few conversations. We now have a clear view on the role we play in bringing the community voice to the practice, helping them on their continuous improvement journey.”
Eileen joined the group as she is passionate about health, which she describes as a worrying national issue.
“Anything I can do personally to promote awareness of health, family health, mental health and latest practice is work worth doing. It’s why I was happy to join the group.”
Practice manager Dwayne Stewart is also excited for what the group will bring to the practice.
“The group is a great liaison point between us and the community. The members of the group are all very community minded people and serve on a variety of other voluntary groups in Te Aroha, supporting everyone from children through to some of our elderly. They are well connected, and they are impartial so people may feel it is easier to approach them to discuss an idea than to bring it to us directly,” says Dwayne.
Now the group is formed their first focus is getting known within the community. They’ve set up a noticeboard in the practice that profiles all members as well as what the group is about, and how to contact them. They are also producing posters and flyers to distribute around Te Aroha. In addition they’ve held an ‘open day’ in the practice waiting room, talking to people and getting lots of feedback.
“One of our key messages is for people to understand we are not part of the complaints process. That is a formal process that sits with the practice. We’re an ideas group, looking for things the practice can implement that will have benefit for a wide range of people in the community,” says Eileen.
“It may seem a bit funny, but we’ve started with some pretty low hanging fruit such as painting the suggestion box and moving it so it is more noticeable. We’ve also worked with the practice to make the front door mat safer – most of the practice staff didn’t use the front door to come and go and didn’t know how much it moved about.”
GP and practice owner Hayley Scott also works with the PPG. “As a Health Care Home, Health Te Aroha operated a little differently from traditional general practice. There are so many patient benefits in this new way of working, but some aspects like phone triage can benefit from a bit of explaining. The PPG can act as a voice back to our community, helping people to know the way we are operating now ensures our practice is sustainable for Te Aroha. Often rural practices can really struggle. We want to make sure the health needs of our community are met, without people having to travel away from home,” says Hayley.
“Our PPG is one of the first in New Zealand and we’re sharing our experience with our Health Care Home peers. We’re feeling our way through with the PPG, and we can’t wait to see what might come from it. The Health Care Home is a patient-focused model, so embedding that patient voice into how we do things can only help us to get better,” says Dwayne.
To learn more about the patient participation group at Health Te Aroha check out the website, www.health-tearoha.co.nz/patient-participation-group.
Tokoroa Medical Centre Patient Participation Group
PPG started in April 2016 and has 6-8 regular members. It operates on the principle of ‘for the patients, by the patients’ with the Practice Manager attending and providing support. Working to agreed Terms of Reference and meeting monthly, the group have instigated a number of service improvements including:
- Extended the practice opening time four nights a week.
- Installing seating in the foyer for patients waiting for taxis and lifts.
- Changes to the Patient information leaflet in reception.
- Raised money to provide transport around the practice and hospital site.