For John Dakin, being at the hospital was like being at home — but with “better drugs.”
He even requested to stay longer at the Scarborough Hospital after having knee surgery because of the treatment he received, he says.
“The nurse that was on duty at the time was so helpful, whatever you wanted: a pillow or get a drink,” Dakin said. “I wrote a note after I got out of the hospital to thank them. Every single staff seemed to enjoy being there and [understood] how important their attitude was to the patients.”
Even while the Scarborough Hospital board works to get new equipment and improve facilities and services, the hospital is also focused on the patient experience, which is part of a “culture shift” that’s underway, hospital vice-chair Steve Smith said at a town hall meeting Nov. 16.
That experience includes where the patient goes, how quickly they’re seen, the ease of getting around and how they’re treated. It’s a new concept that’s not practised at many hospitals, he said.
“[People] want to be treated with respect,” Smith said. “They want high-quality care, which is almost a given, but it doesn’t have to be the latest, newest, best, most expensive.”
The meeting, held at the hospital’s Birchmount campus, was meant to update the public on the progress of the board’s recent initiatives. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and address issues important to them.
Board members said the Scarborough Hospital’s goal is to ensure the patient’s voice is heard as it tries to improve the quality of patient care.
Some of the hospital’s staff and physicians already meet the unique needs of every patient, Smith said, while others are “starting to get there.”
“Service is important,” he said. “But as important is the communication, the dialogue, being told what’s going on, being involved.”
The hospital recently did interviews with more than 3,000 people to get their opinions on what the ideal patient experience should be like. Smith showed a video of some of them.
Teresa Ng, who attended the meeting, responded to the video, asking how hospitals can break the language barrier.
“Some of them share that they don’t have the culture to communicate with the medical professionals,” Ng said.
Anne Marie Males, Scarborough Hospital’s patient experience vice-president , said the issue of communication is a “global problem” as patients who don’t speak English or don’t speak it well have the same concerns as English-speaking patients.
“They had the same fears, the same questions, the same feeling that they weren’t being communicattwied with, which was fascinating to me,” Males said.
She said the hospital used to rely solely on volunteer interpreters, but it now has two full-time interpreters — one who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese, and one who speaks Tamil — to better bridge the communication gap.
“They’ve been here about two weeks, and they’ve already run off their feet in terms of requests and dealing with patients and families,” Males said. “So improvements have been made, but we’ve got a lot of work to do still.”
She said the hospital is looking at training and educating staff to try to build a “critical mass of people” who understand the same language and know their roles and responsibilities.