Communication is a basic human right

Communication is a basic human right
February 11, 2016 Mary Freer

I pledged to find an effective mechanism for Eastern Health (EH) consumers with communication difficulties (CWCD) to have a greater voice regarding their experience…

This week at the Change Room we hear from Chris Stone, Associate Director of Allied Health (Speech Pathology)  at Eastern Health  ( Photo above: Jo Brady, Speech Pathology Manager on the left with Chris Stone)

Last year I pledged to find an effective mechanism for Eastern Health (EH) consumers with communication difficulties (CWCD) to have a greater voice regarding their experience of care and to raise awareness of this group’s needs and rights.

This is essential for many compelling reasons. CWCD are:

  • 3 times more likely to experience an avoidable adverse event.
  • Routinely denied participation in their healthcare decision making.
  • Routinely selected out of patient feedback opportunities– they simply have less of a voice than other healthcare consumers.

The bottom line is we want this group to be more empowered to participate in their own healthcare decision making in order to reduce risk and improve equity.  And we want to hear from them about their experience of care and how it can be improved.   ( Photo below:Jo Brady with Ishani Milton, Speech Pathologist at Maroondah site).

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Our actions since Change Day:

  • We partnered with the Patient Experience of Care team to develop a strategy to raise awareness of CWCD and to find mechanisms to hear from them.
  • Speech pathologists now conduct ward surveys with CWCD, as we know they are routinely excluded from this important data capture. This allows us to compare the experience of CWCD to other EH consumers and to learn from them. Adding their voice to the general database ensures it is more truly representative of our diverse patient population.
  • Senior speech pathologists support members of the senior leadership team to conduct leadership walkrounds with CWCD. Consequently, even patients dependent on an augmentative communication device have been able to ‘have their say’.
  • We have secured a seat at the Patient Experience of Care Expert Advisory Committee to ensure the needs of CWCD are raised.
  • We have developed a database of stories from CWCD and are filming another. These stories – positive and negative – are used at the commencement of meetings, in reports and as an educational tool.
  • We commence all our speech pathology meetings with a patient story of a CWCD.

My pledge this year is to further develop and embed systems which will routinely give these consumers a more effective say in their own healthcare.  What’s your pledge ?