The Southcoast Health Patient and Family Advisory Council: A Valuable Resource for Southcoast Health and the Community We Serve
The Southcoast Health Patient and Family Advisory Council: A Valuable Resource for Southcoast Health and the Community
Yinka Oluwole, Southcoast Health’s Director of Service Excellence and Patient Experience, discusses the purpose and importance of our Patient and Family Advisory Council, which is also known by its acronym: PFAC. Since joining Southcoast Health in July 2021, Yinka has made building Patient and Family engagement a key part of the Service Excellence and Patient Experience Strategic plan.
Not everyone is familiar with Southcoast’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, or, as we often call it, PFAC. What is PFAC and what is its purpose?
Yinka: The PFAC was established in 2014 as a state mandate. The PFAC is a forum for patients and families to share with Southcoast Health their concerns, ideas and perspectives, including those on quality of care and service, as well as access to care. This has been key to enhancing communication among patients, families, and staff, and to improving the overall experience at Southcoast Health. Our organization strives to deliver exceptional service, which is why we recognize the importance of a feedback outlet as a necessary tool for a functional health system. Fundamentally, the PFAC is a “consumer advisory group” and a link between Southcoast Health and the communities it serves.
What are a few examples of how PFAC serves patients and Southcoast Health?
Yinka: The goal of the PFAC is to incorporate patient and family perspectives evaluating and improving our services. For example, the PFAC has worked to improve the accessibility of MyChart though leveraging more user-friendly language, directly impacting ease of experience for our patients. The PFAC members have also reviewed the organization handbook, and they added their perspective to the language and design to make it more accessible for everyone.
Importantly, the PFAC contributed greatly to the efforts to ensure that Southcoast Health is compliant with Laura’s Law, a Massachusetts legislation passed in early 2021. It’s named after Laura Levis, a young woman who passed away from an asthma attack, just steps away from an emergency room door. Under the law, standards were set for emergency department signs, lighting, directional marking, and the security monitoring of any major hospital door. PFAC members were a part of enforcing this regulation, by participating in site visits to our emergency departments and providing their opinions and feedback.
Overall, the PFAC is an excellent resource for getting patient and family feedback on various Southcoast Health endeavors and programs. These can range from purchasing new clinical equipment, to developing a new service – or enhancing a current one – as well as creating informational brochures for patients.
What are the PFAC’s goals for 2022?
The PFAC has exciting plans for 2022, with a goal of growing our membership and creating an even greater impact on Southcoast Health:
- In 2022, we are committed to expanding our membership to better reflect the communities we serve. We are seeking out new participants from various age groups, different gender identities and diverse language, educational and ethnic backgrounds.
- We are also striving to increase awareness about the PFAC and the value they bring to the Southcoast Health organization. The perspective of our patients is invaluable as we undertake new initiatives.
- Lastly, it is our goal to ensure that every PFAC member will be involved in at least one improvement project, per quarter this year. Through a higher level of participation, we hope to further cement PFAC’s commitment as a helpful resource at Southcoast Health as we strive to improve the patient experience and the wellbeing of our community.
Who currently serves on the PFAC?
Yinka: The PFAC is comprised of patients and family members, whom we call “Advisors,” and Southcoast staff members. The names of all of our PFAC members and other information about the group can be found on our website on the Patient & Family Advisory Council page.
When, where, and how often does the PFAC meet?
Yinka: Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve moved our meetings to a virtual gathering. We meet twice a month. The first meeting of each month is for a planning and brainstorming purpose. The second one is our general meeting, where we invite both internal and external presenters to share educational information, discuss topics that may require input from our patient and family advisors and introduce new programs at Southcoast that may affect the community we serve.
How do you identify patients and family members who may be interested in serving on the PFAC?
Yinka: I encourage staff to seek and identify patients and family members who they think could be a great fit for the PFAC and encourage them to apply. Interested individuals can complete a short online application on our website. Alternatively, staff can let them know to email a brief statement of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community members interested in joining the PFAC and employees interested in learning more about how the PFAC might be a resource for their department or unit may contact Yinka Oluwole at OluwoleO@southcoast.org.