Have you ever wondered why ordinary people get involved in the healthcare debate? It seems that one or two voices will never achieve any change or improvement in the services Canadians receive and how they are provided. An overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and frustration kept me silent until recently, and I am an ordinary Canadian. In this post I want to urge you to reflect on your care and your contribution to your health and then to think about how best to use your voice for change and improvement to your healthcare this year.
Today more than ever before it is important to be an active partner in your own healthcare. Every service provider is now stretched to the breaking point and it is certainly clear that the system is not working well. When you make a medical appointment or are scheduled to see a specialist be prepared. Make this time work for you. Make a list of concerns if you need to, have confidence in your own ability to communicate your needs and desires for care and remember no one can read your mind you must be ready to speak up and state your case clearly. Do not be intimidated by language you do not understand, ask questions if you are confused. If you are too vulnerable to state your case, take someone you trust with you to speak on your behalf. Good straight forward communication between patient and physician and extended healthcare team will mean that everyone saves time and everyone has the same understanding of a care plan its goals and its limitations.
Why have people of all kinds had so little ability to have a voice in the way our system is designed and care is delivered? Care cannot just work for the provider it must also work for the recipient. Often those who have spent long days and nights in hospitals or clinics can have remarkable insight into small but important changes that can improve care and save money.
Now when hospital waiting rooms are bursting at the seams and surgery wait times for certain procedures are very long, politicians and healthcare executives have decide it may be time to let the patient provide some insight from their perspective. Think about your own care or the care of family and friends. Is it compassionate, dignified care that is respectful of the needs and desires of the patient? Is there humanity in the provision of care? Find your voice this year and use it to your own healthcare advantage.
We need to return to a time when careful and reasoned consultation with patients provided a clear treatment plan that was well communicated and met the needs and expectations of all concerned. I am more than just a case or a number I am a person. I have thoughts and feelings and I want to have a voice in my care. Do not do things to me, do them with me. We will all be better off.
To find out more about voice in healthcare and what you should be able to expect as a Canadian see the following:
Patients’ Association of Canada
Patient’s Bill of Rights – A Comparative Overview Smith, Margaret, Feb. 2002