A nurse sees that people suffering from opioid addiction are being treated differently from other patients and promises to treat them with compassion. A doctor pledges to call and text patients to build stronger relationships. A health care worker commits to introducing themselves by name.
What do all of these pledges have in common? They are commitments that health care workers across the province are making right now to drive change in our system. And, they are all part of the global health care movement, Change Day.
In 2013, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) was stressed by financial pressures and morale issues plaguing the system. In response, Helen Bevan and a group of doctors launched Change Day, a grassroots initiative that empowered caregivers, patients and providers to make and act on pledges that reflected the changes they wanted to see.
The program provided an opportunity to transform people’s dissatisfaction into something constructive and resulted in the biggest day of collective action for improvement in the history of NHS. Now in its 5th year, Change Day has spread around the world, including British Columbia, Alberta, and now, Ontario, where, we know some of the very same frustrations that inspired those initial caregivers exist as well.
Ontario’s health care industry is facing real challenges. It is driven by technological advancements and the need to do more with less, an aging population that will put added pressure on our system and an upcoming flu season that will push capacity.
Compassionate quality care should be the bedrock of healthcare, but the intensity, stress and drive for efficiency that characterizes healthcare today takes a toll on patients, families and health professionals.
But, there are changes that can be made today that will impact the health care of tomorrow.
Getting front line providers and patients involved in creating change is a good idea. Dr. Danielle Martin, best-selling author of Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for all Canadians, noted in an interview: “We cannot continue to tell people how they need to change, we need to ask them.”
Health care workers are the backbone of the health care system. They know what changes will make the difference to patient-centred care and how to improve their work environments. If we truly want to see change, we need to empower them to use their voice.
Further to this, we need to support health care workers in reigniting the passion that drew them to the profession in the first place. Administrators and leadership need to empower people to address changes both in the moment and long-term, and most importantly, we need to put patient care at the forefront again.
Change Day Ontario is a chance to remind those within the health system that small actions count, and that, together, we can make a difference. It’s about people engaging with one another through ideas and stories; sharing them online and through social media; overcoming barriers; and ultimately, helping to improve the experience of health care for patients and providers alike.
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