St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s), a multi-site health care organization, recognizes the importance of welcoming patients and families as full partners in the delivery, design, measurement and improvement of care. Guided by a Care Partnership Framework (2016), St. Joseph’s partners with patients, families and health care providers to improve family caregiver experiences. Family caregivers are often “silent partners in care,” yet save the health care system over $31B annually. 1 in 4 Canadians are family caregivers, however, many feel ill-equipped to perform caregiving duties and left out of important care planning decision-making. These issues have a significant impact on patient safety following transitions from hospital and in day-to-day care.

This project, funded by The Change Foundation, followed best practices for experience-based co-design (Point of Care, 2016). Discovery was completed to learn about current health care experiences through focus group and individual interviews (n=220) with patients, family caregivers and health care providers. Several themes emerged including: improving education enhancing care transitions, caring for caregivers, and improving communication. Broad themes were shared in co-design workshops involving these key stakeholder groups. Together, priorities were identified and working groups were formed to develop resources. Care resource binders, education and discharge materials, provider education, family presence policy and corporate structures were co-designed, implemented and evaluated. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected and highlight improvements in caregivers feeling meaningfully involved, increased knowledge, patients feeling prepared for discharge and providers feeling confident in connecting with family caregivers. This work continues to spread across the organization.

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