Partnerships, at least the good ones, take time and energy to build. They are forged over time as trust and respect are earned.
Many fail when the work is too difficult, when there isn't a shared vision or when success isn't realized quickly enough. Misunderstandings can create barriers large enough to derail efforts and change the course of action. Negativity can prevail. Systems remain unchanged. Unsafe care continues.
This is unacceptable.
Building strong partnerships is the hallmark of Patients for Patient Safety Canada. It is ingrained in our DNA. As members, we partner with each other to accomplish something greater than what we could alone. As patients and family members, many of whom have suffered grief and loss from healthcare errors, we partner with healthcare systems, in an effort to make improvements.
We are volunteers. We choose this work and to be part of this incredible team; a team focused on doing some amazing things to make care safer for all. Not only are we committed to our cause, but we are also committed to each other. When it may have been easier to choose other pursuits, and where gratification may have been more instantaneous elsewhere, many of our initial members continued. Along the way, many others have joined our journey.
Our supporters remind us that "changing a culture takes a decade". They encourage us to "stay the course." Volunteering to build a culture of safety in healthcare is an extraordinary thing. It is one of the most unique volunteer experiences that most of us have ever had.
We've seen remarkable changes to the culture of patient safety over the last 10 years. Providers and leaders now invite us to be collaborators in communication, education, resource development, and safety design. These invitations extend beyond simply hearing our stories; the collaborators want us to be directly involved with shaping improvements. We took the time to build trust and earn respect, and now we have a partnership that is allowing us to make a real difference.
For many of us, the phrase "Nothing about us without us," is starting to be realized.
We are confident that the next 10 years will be very different – a faster pace of progression. With a shared vision, understanding of purpose, and strong partnerships, we believe something remarkable is on the horizon. In fact, we're already seeing a glimpse of this now: shorter timelines, measurement of outcomes and experiences, transparency of results – good or bad – all so that swift actions can occur to keep things on track. We need to see what is working and what isn't. We need to know that resources aren't being wasted and that lives are not being needlessly harmed; that the healthcare system really 'cares' about its patients. Patient safety, patient experience, health outcomes and patient engagement are all connected.
We may be patients, but 'patience' isn't our strong suit. As volunteers, we no longer hope to be involved in transforming healthcare, we expect it.
Our destination is safe care. Our vision is 'Every Patient Safe'.
Denice Klavano and Sharon Nettleton
Co-Chairs, Patients for Patient Safety Canada