Moments that matter - Patient Experience Week 2021

Sydney Children’s Hospital Network supports the patient experience by placing our families at the centre of everything we do and seeking consumer engagement at all levels of the organisation; from the ward to the board. The care our patients and families receive goes beyond medical treatment and can significantly impact their overall health and wellbeing, even after they exit the building.

Patient Experience Week, which takes place from 26 – 30 April, is an annual event to recognise and celebrate the many ways that healthcare staff can make a positive impact to the patient experience every day. Patient Experience Week also offers patients, families and communities the opportunity to share what matters to them, inspiring us all to reflection the ways we can make the hospital a better place. 

This year, we are shining a light on the ways staff promote kindness, respect, teamwork, and safety. These values are building blocks for creating positive relationships, trust, and collaboration, supporting a better overall patient, family and staff experience.

We recently introduced a new role to our emergency departments (ED) dedicated to helping ease stress and promote wellbeing for patients and families. The patient experience officer is a unique and non-clinical role that assists patients in a wide variety of ways, the role is family-focused with the idea of delivering a great experience from start to finish within the ED.

Meet Diana

Diana has been a Patient Experience Officer since August 2020 and while no two days are the same, she focuses on identifying parents and or children who might need emotional or practical support and follow their journey throughout their time in the ED. 

I am keeping a constant non-clinical check on the families and therefore providing another layer in ensuring everyone is given the best possible care, says Diana. 

 Her role might be general management of the ED waiting room and help with the registration process by advising parents what is required to register, or assisting at triage to soothe a distraught child with bubbles or words of comfort while parents complete administrative requirements.

Sometimes it can be the simple gesture of a cup of tea, coffee, blankets and food or distractions such as colouring-in or toys during periods of excessive wait times. 

The most challenging part for Diana is managing the waiting room when there are extremely long wait times; it’s unavoidable as the most seriously unwell must be seen first.

However, Diana finds it most rewarding to see the parents and children walk out of the department with smiles on their faces, knowing they have been well looked after.

It's most rewarding when the children and parents return to the ED, stop to say hello and recall the last time I assisted them during their visit. My role builds a reassuring and comforting environment for both the parents and children return to, and I know I have made a difference, says Diana.

Meet Sarah 

As a Patient Experience Officer (PEO) in the CHW Emergency Department, Sarah work’s to reduce anxiety in parents and children by keeping them informed about their visit; including keeping them updated on their position in the queue and explain the process of the Emergency Department and how it all works.

Knowledge is power, and being able to keep patient families informed is key to try and help them keep calm in a stressful environment, like the Emergency Department, when their child is unwell. 

Sarah’s background in Occupational Therapy and carer support gives her a unique clinical understanding that helps when it comes to answering questions about the ED experience at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, liaising with staff, as well as the personal skills to relate to families and patients, and try to keep them at ease, giving them the best experience possible. 

Assisting parents and carers in understanding the process of the Emergency Department, and supporting them when they have questions or concerns, means they can focus on their child in a time that they need it most. As a parent herself, Sarah empathises with parents and carers, and  understands that there’s often a feeling of frustration and helplessness when a child is sick.

The highlight of my job is seeing families relax after they’ve had their questions answered, and there’s nothing better than appreciative patients, parents and carers and knowing they have had the best possible experience in the Emergency Department, says Sarah. ​

Share your experience

Patients and families are invited to share their experiences to help us maintain or improve the services we provide.

The Network also embeds the voice of our families through our consumer groups including the Families and Consumer Council and the Youth Council, our Carer Support Program, our Parent Advisory Groups and committees, and in project and service level engagement.

A display of the positive patient experiences collected from staff, patients, families and carers during Patient Experience Week can be enjoyed in the Patient and Carer Support rooms at both The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.​