Starting in September 2013, The Change Foundation partnered with Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) across the province to offer a series of learning sessions on patient engagement strategies and activities. The final session was held in partnership with the Waterloo Wellington LHIN in May 2015.
Designed in partnership with LHIN staff and regional stakeholders, the sessions were tailored to regional interests and based on local patient engagement needs, goals, and readiness. This flexible design strategy meant that each learning session was unique to the communities within each LHIN, some focussing heavily on Health Links teams, while others focusing on more general topics.
“We really wanted to make these learning sessions meaningful for the community, but also for us at The Change Foundation,” said Genevieve Obarski, Executive Lead, Program Implementation. “A lot of the examples we heard were ones that system leaders might not be fully aware of.”
Some of the examples highlighted by these session included patient “shadowing” to illuminate areas for improvement during an ambulatory care visit, video life stories for Alzheimer’s patients, and engagement initiatives to improve the look, feel, and experience for economically disadvantaged health clinics.
Another important finding that emerged through some of these sessions focused on the level of integration of Health Links in each LHIN. Given the early stage of Health Links in Ontario, not surprisingly many groups were found to be at different levels of capacity development with their Health Links, providing an opportunity to learn. It also underscored the need for standardization across the province to facilitate better evaluation of the Health Links program.
Overall, this series of learning sessions in partnership with Ontario’s LHINs greatly expanded the knowledge of patient engagement strategies at a very local level for The Change Foundation, and for the participants in each region.