Your Opportunity to Learn About Patient and Family Centred Care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

By Michelle McChristie

In 2012, Paul Carr suffered a heart attack and was so impressed by the care he received at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre that it inspired him to volunteer to support the hospital in helping other patients. “The treatment I received gave me back my life, and I will always be grateful,” said Carr. “I was absolutely amazed by the level of commitment, caring and compassion I met at every level.”

Carr is one of 85 patient family advisors (PFAs) who work in partnership with health care providers to share their insight and first-hand knowledge of how services impact patients and their families. They have direct input on everything from policies and programs to the hiring process for leadership positions. They participate in ways that best suit their interests, experience, and availability.

Over the past five years, Carr says he has witnessed many positive changes, such as improved patient-to-professional communication and improvements to cardiac care. “The dedication and energy of the staff in implementing these initiatives has been outstanding. Patient family advisors have had input into every initiative along the way,” he said.

From the 2016 Sharing and Caring Together main exhibition, (L-R) Bonnie Nicholas, PFCC lead/patient advocate; Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, executive vice president Patient Care Services and chief nursing executive; Grant Walsh, TBRHSC board of directors, 1st vice chair; Keith Taylor, PFA council co-chair

Patient family advisors are an integral part of the hospital’s philosophy of care, known as Patient and Family Centred Care (PFCC). Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, executive vice president, Patient Care Services, and chief nursing executive describes this philosophy as “respectful and responsive to individual patient/family needs and values while ensuring that those values guide the plan of care—it means we are consciously working together with our patients and their families.” The philosophy is summed up by the phrase “Nothing about you, without you,” and is guided by the core concepts of dignity and respect, communication and information sharing, collaboration, and participation.

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is the first and only organization in Canada to earn a Leading Practice Designation for Patient & Family Centred Care from Accreditation Canada for their successful integration of the voice of the patient. This has brought requests to share their Patient and Family Centred Care best practices with local, provincial, and international organizations.

For Crocker Ellacott, the benefits of this approach are vast. “Boardroom to bedside, we are better able to understand the patient experience, and ensure that the patient perspective is paramount in all decision making,” she said.

From September 25-29, the hospital is hosting the annual week-long celebration promoting Patient and Family Centred Care and highlighting the initiatives that have been developed with their patients and families to help transform health care. The celebration culminates with the Sharing and Caring Together Exhibition.

Carr describes the event as “an opportunity for the community to learn about the many initiatives that have been developed with our patients and families to transform health care at our hospital.” He feels strongly that the amazing work done in our community should be celebrated, adding that “we all have an interest in making Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre a world-class health care facility. You never know when you’ll need to get your life back!”

The Sharing and Caring Exhibition runs from 10 am-4 pm on September 29 and is attended by patients, staff, volunteers, physicians, and the community. Admission is free; there will be pizza, beverages, and cake, and prizes to be won. Visit for more information.