Get Involved – Health Research Opportunity

Do you reside in Alberta? Are you interested in health research and patient engagement? If you answered “Yes” to both questions, you may wish to visit the Patient/Family Registry web page. In addition to discovering what is happening in the world of health research in Alberta, you can fill out an application form to get involved!

Transfer of Care Experience?

Are you a patient or family member who has experienced what it is like to go from the adult Intensive Care Unit to the Ward of a hospital? If so, the Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Calgary is inviting you to join in a facilitated session to discuss the transfer of care process. This session will be held on November 2, 2017; 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room TRW2D39; Teaching, Research and Wellness Building, Foothills Campus, University of Calgary; Calgary, Alberta. Click here to read more.

Feed the Elephant


In an earlier post, readers were invited to share any ideas they had concerning potential topics for the upcoming 2017 Quality Summit. Karla W. was one person who accepted this open invitation. Below is what she wrote.

“Over the past several years of [my] experience as a patient representative/advisor, the issue of remuneration for time spent as a “volunteer” has surfaced [during] discussions at the tables. Nationally, and provincially, it varies greatly (from zero – up) how organizations acknowledge patient advisors, as well [as how] different people on the same committees are acknowledged differently. I would like to encourage a discussion on this topic.”

Why not be like Karla and “feed” the elephant?

Is the Room Getting Smaller or the Elephant Getting Bigger?

Continuing on from an earlier post, below are some additional advisor-related topics that have been suggested for this year’s Quality Summit 2017.

  • Diversity and Healthcare – This could include such things as gender, sexual orientation, culture, ethnicity, age, disability etc.  Diversity is a topic that applies to all populations, regardless of whether one is a patient, member of the community, healthcare provider, advisor, or healthcare professional.
  • Disparity and Healthcare – Socioeconomic status, poverty, accessibility and health/well-being.
  • Volunteer Burnout – What is volunteer burnout?  What causes volunteer burnout?  How can it be prevented?
  • What is the ideal healthcare system as seen from leadership, management, frontline staff, patient/family advisors.  What are the frustrations and barriers associated with realizing this ideal?
  • What is an effective partnership for patient/family advisors and AHS staff?
  • Why does storytelling matter and how could it help in connecting with the person before the patient?  Empathy vs. apathy.
  • Drawing from patient/family advisors across Canada, what are their frustrations, hopes, dreams and lessons learned with respect to their advisor role?
  • What are some advisory opportunities and innovative ideas and programs from Alberta and beyond?
  • What does meaningful involvement mean to patient/family advisors?
    “[T]he meaningful involvement of patient and family advisors with healthcare, (where meaningful means for everyone involved – the advisors, front-line providers, research, operations, senior mgmt, etc.)”
  • “To what extent are patient and family advisors meaningfully involved with healthcare?” (where ‘meaningful = having a serious, important or useful quality or purpose’ … and reference to meaningful means for all stakeholders involved – the advisors themselves, front-line providers, research, operations, senior mgmt, etc.)”

Quality Summit 2017 – Elephant in the Room


Planning for the upcoming Quality Summit 2017 is underway. To this end, members of the Patients 4 Change (Pts4Chg) community were asked to provide their thoughts on what they would like to see at the summit. During a recent Pts4Chg community telephone chat, which focused on the Quality Summit 2017, one of the key ideas raised was the need to talk about the “elephant in the room,” as it relates to partnering with Patient/Family Advisors.

While it is true that these topics may be difficult to raise and cause some angst and discomfort when discussed, by pretending that such issues do not exist and hence failing to address the elephant in the room, genuine collaboration and engagement with advisors is not apt to occur.

Below are some of parts of the elephant the Pts4Chg community identified.

  • Devaluing advisors
  • Fear of including advisors
  • Wasting advisors’ time energy and experience
  • Exploitation versus engagement – When does inclusion become exploitation?
  • Partnership versus Tokenism
  • Ignoring advisors

Click here to read more from the recent Pts4Chg conversation. If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments pertaining the following four areas, you are welcome to reply as a response to this post.

  1. What advisor-related topics would you like to see included at the Summit?
  2. What speakers would you like to have as part of the advisors’ sessions?
  3. What format would you like to see for the advisors sessions? For example, formal presentation, workshops, breakout session, etc.?
  4. Other Comments

Walking for a Cause

On Saturday, February 25th, some members of the Patients 4 Change community participated in the “Coldest Night of the Year” walk. This annual event saw hundreds of Calgarians bundling up and trekking 2, 5 or 10 km to raise money for the homeless, hungry and hurting.


Not only was this a great way to help others in the Calgary community, it also was a lot of fun. In fact, the Pts4Chg members, who walked under the name of “Team Goose Bump,” got so caught up in the excitement and conversation that they walked two blocks past a key corner that was to take them to the finish line. What’s a few more blocks added to a 10km walk?!

Looking forward  to next year’s event. 

Pts4Chg Fishbowl – Thanks and Themes

On October 17th, Patients 4 Change (Pts4Chg) hosted a Fishbowl event as part of Alberta Health Services’ Patient & Family Centred Care week. The fishbowl format was chosen as it encourages a genuine dialogue and conversation, rather than a panel-like, prepared presentation. Eight individuals volunteered to be fish in the bowl and were the key conversationalists for the event. Members of the audience “jumped” in and out of the bowl to ask questions and make comments. 

Although fishbowls are typically held in person, the Pts4Chg fishbowl was held virtually. Unfortunately, technical problems that started in the morning and continued throughout the day saw our virtual fishbowl experiencing a few unexpected challenges. Nevertheless, despite the “rough waters” that were present, a very lively, open, and honest discussion ensued around the following questions:

1. What does partnering with patients and families look like to you?
2. How do you build rapport and grow relationships in health care that make for effective and equitable partnerships?
3. What are some of the current barriers to partnership? How could these barriers be removed or minimized?

Click here to find out what themes arose from the Pts4Chg fishbowl. (Thanks, Sandi, for helping to create this document.)

Based on the feedback received, the Pts4Chg fishbowl was a very successful and worthwhile event. This, however, would not have been possible without an active audience, and our amazing school of fish – Debbie, Mike, Aaron, Sandi, Philip, Terry, Jane and Kristina. Thanks so much!

Richard and Tracy

Get Involved!

Are you interested in promoting and improving the safety and quality of Alberta’s healthcare system? Do you want to see changes in this area? If so, the Health Quality Council of Alberta is looking for volunteers to join its Patient/Family Advisory Panel. Click here for more information.

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who joined us in the Fishbowl last night. What a great time and and an interesting conversation! Special thanks to our fish – Debbie, Mike, Aaron, Sandi, Philip, Terry, Jane and Kristina. You were super! Thanks also to Richard. Your efforts in bringing this event about were not overlooked and were much appreciated. Thanks so much! Tracyweb-fish-thank-you-front