Working from Within

Published Monday, April 24, 2023

Working from Within

By Kathy Smith, Volunteer, Patient Family Advisory

I enjoy volunteering as a Patient Family Advisor (PFA) at TBRHSC. As part of the PFA Council, I like the variety of challenging tasks and the respectful, multi-disciplinary teamwork. Most of all, I like working from within to explore solutions and to see how PFA input improves patient experiences at our Hospital all the time.

After retiring from Confederation College in 2012, a colleague suggested I join the large, actively engaged group of Patient Family Advisors at TBRHSC. I have always believed in living life with purpose and my new life’s chapter as a PFA affords me that. I, and my fellow PFA’s, work with clinicians, physicians, administrators, and researchers to improve the patient experience for all. PFA’s share their lived experiences to support and strengthen the Hospital’s sincere commitment to Patient & Family Centred Care by identifying situations that can be improved and working with all staff to come up with solutions to improve the patient experience at TBRHSC. In fact, TBRHSC is the first and only Hospital in Canada to receive a Leading Practice Award in Patient & Family Centred Care (PFCC) from Accreditation Canada.

As a patient and as a care partner, I have been impressed by, and grateful for, the high quality of care received. Every experience at TBRHSC has been exceptional: the attention to patient education; the compassionate care and communication; the safe discharge summaries; the Care Partner Liaisons during Covid; the cleanliness and delicious meals. I have personally seen good ideas transform into better action plans and I continue to be inspired by the many positive, helpful changes in care resulting from PFA feedback.

My PFA journey at our Hospital includes serving on the PFA Council, as the PFA for Cancer Clinical Research Centre and as past-Chair of the Patient Family Cancer Partnership. Another exceptional PFA adventure has been as a patient partner in research – co-designing an aid to consent to research for intensive care patients with COVID.

My focus on conveying issues and concerns important and unique to our region has seen my role expand to include the “Expert Panel for Virtual Primary Care Health Guidelines” and the “Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Creating Remote Access to Clinical Trials” with Ontario Health.

Senator John McCain said, “We have a duty to serve a cause greater than ourselves.”  For me, that cause is healthcare and the patient experience.  I am confident lending my lived experience, thoughts and voice is bettering those for my family and for all, and I am thankful for all of the hard-working TBRHSC staff and administrators who make our PFA Council so strong, so vital and so respected.


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