If your Dad was in that bed, what would you like us to know?

By Irene Andress, Chief Nurse Executive
Like so many of you, I’m a proud East Yorker. And Toronto East General Hospital is my community hospital.
It’s a constant that has been here for most of my life’s major milestones: I was born here, my kids were born here and my mom received compassionate care in her last days here, within these walls. And despite being in the big city, TEGH has always had that small-town, everybody-knows-your-name kind of feel, where my doctor could be my neighbour.
Through my lifetime, our community has grown, my family has grown, yet our hospital has retained that same “family-like feeling.” It’s this sense of familiarity that’s so comforting to me – especially when a loved one is here, receiving care.
As Chief Nurse Executive, having a family member in one of our beds always reminds me about the importance of getting to know the person and understanding their story. And when they can’t tell it – because of age, dementia or another reason- we work with the family to help them tell it. When a family member was recently admitted, I knew they were in good hands. Still, I worried whether the information I told one nurse would be passed along to the next.
At the bedside, critical information is relayed from one care team to another during bedside shift report when nurses change shifts. Recently, I saw this in action and had the opportunity to shadow one of our nursing teams led by Shanda Samuels, an RN on B3.
As I watched my loved one transition from the emergency department to the unit to surgery and back, it gave me incredible peace of mind knowing that nurses and other care providers acknowledged the information I gave them. They wrote it down. They confirmed and asked me about it. I felt like I was a member of the care team – like my input mattered.
And feeling like I mattered matters a whole lot.
This information gives those caring at the bedside the tools they need to anticipate the patient’s need. It’s often the difference between a ho-hum and a great patient experience. Communicating with and involving the family during transition points provides opportunities to make care safer, reduce the risk of an adverse action and ultimately improve the patient experience.
As our hospital continues to evolve and we gain an increasingly louder and more influential voice in the Toronto teaching hospital community, keeping that “family feel” is important.
It distinguishes us.
It starts by making our patients and their families feel at home and part of the care team. And it starts by listening and asking, “What would you like us to know about your dad?”
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you think @IreneAndress

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