Every once in a while I express my opinions on the Caring@Home blog. I’m sure everyone realizes by now that I like to put my two cents in! So, I thought I’d comment on the post-Drummond Report era.
We’ve certainly been flooded with information, reports, comments and opinions. Now we need answers. Since the Drummond Report was released in mid-February, all we’ve heard in the media is that health care is doomed… we need to change or else… privatization is the only answer. I think we’ve heard it all.
But what we haven’t heard much of are the solutions. They’re starting to trickle, in but we need large concrete solutions that are going to improve Canadian health care.
A few weeks back, I spoke at a retirement residence in Toronto to a keen audience; there was one gentleman in particular who will remain a permanent memory. As a speaker, the key to your success is keeping your audience engaged. I tend to go off-topic at times and let my opinion run amok. Well, during this session I felt compelled to explain how it’s OK to ask questions and even challenge the doctors and practitioners. Gone are the days when doctors and patients sit across from each other. They need to sit beside one another when discussing one’s health.
At the end of the talk, after the applause and thanks, one tall, thin, distinguished gentleman slowly but steadily made his way to the front of the room. He stood in front of me and said, in a confident but weary voice, “I want to thank you for your honest and very true presentation. I was a doctor for 50 years and the dean of the medical school for 12, and every word you spoke is true. It’s time for change.”
Over the years I’ve had many critics, but this one I will remember the most.
My parents are from the generation that believed “what the doctor says goes.” Even if you didn’t understand… it didn’t matter. You just did what you were instructed to do. Aging boomers are changing things, in more ways than one. And as younger generations eventually make more use of the health-care system, perhaps the system will change – including the way health care is delivered.
Bayshore, back in October of last year, created a Facebook page dedicated to helping Canadians have their voices heard. And, with more than 20,000 LIKES, the public is speaking up loud and clear. It’s endearing, uplifting and inspiring to read what people are willing to share in a public space like Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/votetosupportcaregivers).
So what’s next? Will we also have a voice in the doctor’s office, hospital or clinic during our next visit? Will the health-care professionals speak with me, not at me? And will I have the confidence to speak up on behalf of myself or my loved ones? The answer should be yes!
The Hamilton Spectator recently published an article written by Dr. Jack Kitts, chair of the Health Council of Canada and CEO of the Ottawa Hospital (“Engaged Patients are Healthier Patients”).
Dr. Kitts wrote: “It’s time to start thinking about the new direction the Canadian health-care system could take, and to take advantage of the rare opportunity to be able to decide what kind of health-care system we want. The conversations already under way are too important to not include the very people who benefit most from health care: the patient.”
I couldn’t agree more: Patients are the centre of care. I encourage you, the next time you go to see a health-care professional, to remember these tips:
Talk as though you are part of the team.
Make suggestions about your health and lifestyle.
Ask questions and clarify the information you’re hearing.
Speak confidently and express your value as a health team member.
Guaranteed you’ll feel better about yourself, your health plan and you’ll understand clearly what you need to do to ensure the best care is in place for you or your loved one. As the Health Council of Canada illustrated in a recent report, patients who are engaged are happier with their care and feel better about their health.
Makes sense to me. If I were to buy a car I intended to drive for the next 10 years, I certainly would want to be the lead in the decision-making process.
In order for our health-care system to work for its users, we must learn from one another, share what we’re doing well, learn from our mistakes and not be afraid to ask for input from our patients. “What do you think?”