When Delia Cooper speaks, people listen. She is known to stick to her guns when it comes to the patient perspective and what is really important to patients. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 12, Delia is using her personal experience to ensure a patient-centred approach to healthcare. Accreditation Canada and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute Patient Safety Champion Awards are pleased to recognize Delia Cooper for her dedication and commitment to improving the safety of healthcare for patients.
As a member of the Patient Voices Network, Delia was asked to bring the patient perspective to the healthcare redesign table at Providence Health Care in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2010, Providence Health Care partnered with the Shared Care Committee (a joint committee of the British Columbia Ministry of Health and the Doctors of BC) and Vancouver Coastal Health to facilitate collaboration between specialists, family physicians and patients to transform care for individuals with complex chronic conditions. The initiative facilitates interaction between family physicians, specialists and patients to develop and implement and processes to streamline care for patients with chronic conditions. An Advisory Group with some 25 members was formed; Delia was asked to join the group as the patient representative and quickly became an integral member of the team.
“Delia’s input has helped us to change how we practice as an organization, often suggesting changes that will have an immediate impact,” says Margot Wilson (Providence Health Care). “As a pioneer of patient-centred care, Delia adds great value to our redesign team. Delia’s participation in the shared care work has been critical to the development and sustainability of many prototypes that are more aligned with patient needs.”
Delia says that when you have a chronic disease you need to self-manage, and receiving timely information about your condition and taking responsibility for your care is the way of the future. She was a strong advocate for patients to have the right to receive a copy of their specialist’s consult. Delia was a passionate supporter for specialty clinics to book appointments directly with the patient, instead of the usual process of the specialty area calling the family physician and the family physician calling the patient. When a faxed referral form was lost, Delia relayed her story and then worked with the team to trial a referral acknowledgement process to ensure confirmation when a referral was received in the specialty area. This practice has spread provincially and patient referrals to specialists no longer fall through the cracks. Delia’s input into the Rapid Access to Consultative Expertise (RACE) telephone advice line for family physicians now includes the patient in the communication loop and reduces unnecessary consults and emergency department visits.
“Delia’s ongoing dedication and commitment to this work has been beyond what we ever imagined,” adds Margot Wilson. “Despite some physical limitations related to her chronic condition, Delia has persevered and worked tirelessly with our team to successfully spread these initiatives. Having her voice at the table has opened our minds to what is truly important to the patient and ensures what we work on is meaningful. We are all thrilled that Delia is being recognized for this national award.”
“I have always felt very welcomed and included when bringing the patient perspective to healthcare redesign,” says Delia. “Having the opportunity to share the patient perspective is so important and it is really exciting to be a part of it and see improvements happen.”