Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital was recently awarded the Missouri Hospital Association’s 2023 Compass Honor. This award recognizes a Missouri hospital for outstanding efforts in effectively partnering with their Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC).
“The council is an all-volunteer group of previous patients and caregivers who work together to improve the patient experience by sharing ideas and recommendations on new projects and policies so we can continue to deliver the highest standards of care,” explains Megan Cassani, MA, CCLS, CIMI, patient and family engagement liaison. Megan leads PFAC at Ranken Jordan along with Rachel Winkler, MSW, LCSW, director of care coordination.
Giving Families a Voice
PFAC is a vital part of Ranken Jordan’s patient-and-family-centered care. “PFAC gives families a voice and allows them to have a say in the hospital’s policies and practices,” Rachel says. “We might think we have a great idea but parents and caregivers have a different view—the idea we have may not work for them. Having their insight is invaluable.”
The Compass Honor spotlighted Ranken Jordan PFAC’s efforts in:
- Enhancing caregiver bed comfort with new mattress options
- Finding creative ways to educate staff and families about PFAC
- Establishing a patient-and-family-centered Champion Award
- Increasing participation in PFAC by offering both in-person and virtual meeting options
- Implementing a business card program to empower staff to reach out to families they feel would be ideal for PFAC
Currently, the council has 11 members. Members are often caregivers who have gone home and want to make the experience better for other patients and families. Patients over 16 also can join the council independently. If they are 16 and under, they just need a parent or guardian with them.
Connecting and Sharing Advice on the Journey
Since the pandemic, PFAC at Ranken Jordan has gained momentum with steady attendance at meetings. Two years ago, the council began offering a virtual meeting option that has become a silver lining of the pandemic. “Our families still have children with complex medical needs once they’re home or they may live far away, so virtual meetings allow anyone to be part of the council, whether you live in St. Louis or Tennessee,” Rachel says.
Winning the Compass Award is a boost to PFAC’s ongoing work and plans for the future. “It’s reaffirming to know we’re going in the right direction and people are taking notice,” Rachel says. “This award also brings awareness around the hospital about who we are. We have so many things on our radar we want to do.”
One project on the horizon is a blog where PFAC members can connect for support and share what they’ve learned on their journey. “Caregivers have lots of good tips, tricks and advice they’ve gathered in their own journey,” Megan says. “For our first blog post, the council created a list of favorite medical items with recommendations on things like strollers. The council also is offering home organization tips.”
Being Heard to Improve Children’s Success
In honor of Patient Experience Day in May, PFAC offered staff education about the council. The hope was to attract more staff to become liaisons on the council.
The efforts paid off. The council recently has engaged more nurses, child life specialists, child life assistants, recreation therapists, patient play associates, and OZ assistants in council activities.
“We’re always growing the council so if staff or current or previous caregivers are interested, we would love to have them join PFAC,” Megan says.
Staff involvement is a key part of the evolution of PFAC. “Involvement in PFAC is a chance for staff to share their ideas and what they’re seeing at the patient bedside,” Rachel says. “It makes staff feel heard, as well. Having staff on the council also allows them to shine the light on caregivers to boost their confidence in their child’s care.”
Megan agrees. “Our staff is passionate about helping patients be successful at home. When caregivers are seen and heard through PFAC, their confidence grows and it improves children’s success.”