Why we need a Health Accord with Patients at the Centre
Toronto, January 18, 2016 – With the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Health Ministers meeting fast approaching, we at Patients Canada stand with patients and their families in strongly urging governments to develop a renewed vision for Canada’s health care system that integrates the direct and authentic voice of patients, from beginning to end.
Patients Canada is a national organization that champions a health care system that works for patients, and we are guided by practical and meaningful solutions that reflect patients’ experiences with health care.
“For Canadians, an improved patient experience requires leadership that looks at improvement through the patient lens,” says Michael Decter, Board Chair of Patients Canada, “and there’s no more effective way to do this than to have patients at the decision-making table as equal partners.”
Patients Canada offers a platform and tools to help Canadians share their experiences with health care – the good and the bad – and those stories can help to bridge the gap between what matters to patients and what they are currently experiencing. When we listen to patients’ experiences, we learn about the fragmented transitions between health care settings, often from hospital to home, that are putting patients at risk. While hospitals are focused on discharging patients to their families, they frequently lack internal accountability structures to ensure the patient’s home is an environment conducive to recovery. We hear frustration from family caregivers across Canada because they are not recognized as key members in their loved one’s health care team, despite the enormous burden placed on them by the health care system to correctly administer medications, manage appointments and more.
When asked, many Canadians indicate that they want to die at home in the presence of loves ones, yet nearly 70% of deaths occur in hospital or long-term care institution. The Federal Government has been compelled by the Supreme Court of Canada to develop legislation around physician-assisted suicide, however governments are placing far too little priority on strengthening our palliative care system, including community-integrative models of palliative care. This is inconsistent with what patients want and it turns a blind eye to the increasing burden felt by family caregivers to fill the gaps in end-of-life care services.
Increasingly patients and family caregivers across Canada are looking beyond their own experiences to help guide the design and delivery of a more transparent and accountable health care system. We at Patients Canada look forward to holding governments’ feet to the fire on behalf of patients, to ensure that all choices made by those with power are grounded in improving the patient experience.