Getting out and meeting with residents is hands down the most important and best part of my role in local health care leadership. I enjoy hearing people’s stories, learning about what health care services matter most and discovering where we, as a health system, could be doing a better job of supporting health and well-being.
Here at the LHIN, and across health care, we talk a lot about the patient experience and providing patient-centred care. It’s at the heart of everything we, and everything front-line clinicians, staff and volunteers do every day. The best way we can improve the patient experience and provide truly patient-centred care in Waterloo Wellington is by understanding the needs of local residents – through genuine engagement with the people who live, work, receive and provide health services here.
On March 30th, Joan and I were honoured to have the chance to participate in the Mayors for Meals event hosted by Community Support Connections – Meals on Wheels and More (CSC-MOW).
The event brings together local Mayors and other community leaders to support the meals on wheels program and to thank the hundreds of volunteers who make, prepare and deliver 350 meals to residents who need them each and every day.
We were given the unique opportunity to ride along with volunteers to hear first-hand how much this service means to them. I was particularly inspired by the stories of two residents I met.
First, we delivered a meal for Carl, who lives in supportive housing at Waterloo Regional Homes for Mental Health (WRHMH). At WRHMH, Carl also receives support from the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team. The ACT team is a multi-disciplinary team that provides intensive case management and support to individuals with severe and persistent mental health concerns. To better serve Carl, CSC and WRHMH partnered to arrange for his meals to be delivered to him by a member of the ACT team. This allows the meals to be delivered at a time that works for Carl and ensures the ACT team is aware of his eating habits and preferences – wrap around care that helps to keep him on track. This is what collaboration and service integration is all about – connecting the dots to better serve the community.
We also met Arthur, another local resident who receives meals each week. Arthur has a physical disability and sometimes has difficulty opening packaging. To improve Arthur’s meal delivery experience, there are instructions for the driver to open the milk when they drop off his meals. It seems simple, but this tiny gesture makes a huge difference to Arthur and the way he experiences his care. It’s these extra, patient-centred efforts that can take good care and make it great!
I really appreciated seeing the great work being done at CSC-MOW through the eyes of our residents and was reminded of the importance of taking the time to participate in these kinds of events. As local health system and community leaders, it is critical that we remember why we come to work every day – to support the health and well-being of residents – and how important these services are to those we serve.
Take a look at your calendar, find a block of time (or make one) and get out and talk to people. Talk to residents, talk to a front-line provider, talk to a new community organization. I promise you it will be the best part of your week.