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virtual meetings keep family members engaged

Patient experience specialist Kim Pham (far right) leads a virtual Patient Family Engagement Committee (PFEC) meeting with family members and hospital staff in June, 2020.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic patients and families remain at the centre of care and decision-making at Runnymede. By harnessing new virtual conferencing technologies, the hospital is enabling families to continue to have their say and keep informed about their loved one’s care.

An important way Runnymede engages with families is through its recurring Patient and Family Engagement Committee (PFEC) and Patient Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) meetings. In addition to providing patients and families with opportunities to learn from hospital team members about updates and new initiatives, they are forums for asking questions and giving feedback about the patient experience.

Virtual meetings

The meetings are usually held in person, but when the pandemic struck this was no longer possible. The hospital responded by introducing virtual meetings, including virtual town halls with Runnymede President and Chief Executive Officer, Connie Dejak.

“Our patients and families are true partners in care and we adapted to ensure we could continue meeting with them so their voices could be heard,” said Sarah King, Director, Client Relations and Community Engagement. “We take a patient- and family-centred approach to the meetings so they are as engaging and meaningful as possible.”

Innovative technology enhances families' experience

Together with an online video conferencing tool, the hospital makes innovative use of a panoramic camera for its virtual meetings that shifts focus on attendees who are talking. The result for family members is an experience that feels as close as possible to sitting in the room with hospital staff.

Realizing some participants may not have experience with virtual meetings, the patient experience team provides easy-to-understand instructions to all who register for the sessions. They also ensure the virtual sessions are available in the day and evening so anyone can participate, regardless of their personal schedules.

Positive feedback from family members

Nine virtual meetings have been held since June, with as many as 10 family participants per session. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; in post-meeting surveys, participants rated the sessions very highly and indicated that their questions were addressed.

The Runnymede team also noted the virtual meeting format had additional benefits for the family members involved.

“Those who usually aren’t very outspoken are more engaged because they can give us their questions in writing in real time in the virtual meetings,” said King. “The meetings also gave our family members a unique opportunity to talk about their experience among themselves; they’re all facing similar challenges and stresses at this time, and we’re happy to provide them with a venue to share their stories with others who understand what they’re going through.”

Interested in taking part?

Virtual meetings will continue in the months ahead, as long as in-person visiting restrictions remain to protect patient safety. If you are a patient family member and are interested in participating, please contact or call 416-762-7316, ext. 2119.