Patient and Family Advisor Margo Twohig

Margo Twohig, Co-chair of North York General Hospital's Patient and Family Advisory Council, knows that if we want to make our hospital the best it can be for patients, then you have to ask the people being cared for at the hospital.

Margo speaks from personal experience. As a former patient at North York General, Margo is grateful she had the power to decide what kind of treatment she wanted.

Patient and Family Advisor Margo Twohig

Patient and Family Advisor Margo Twohig

“When I visited my surgeon he took the time to draw diagrams, he didn't stand over me – he pulled up a chair and sat down eye to eye and I felt important to him as a person not just another patient in his practice,” Margo says.

Her experience prompted her to join our Patient and Family Advisory Council. “I had received such excellent care through an extremely hard time in my life; it's not going to be perfect all of the time, we are human, but the fact that you have that experience makes you want to make sure everybody else has that same kind of experience.”

The role of a Patient and Family Advisor is to work in partnership with the hospital to create a truly patient- and family-centred care environment and experience. They provide important perspectives and have a direct impact across a wide range of hospital initiatives, programs, services and policies to improve the experience of care.

“It's helping all staff, clinical or non-clinical, to see through the eyes of our patients and families when interacting or providing care,” says Margo. “As an advisor, when patients are involved, we ensure the patient and family interests are protected, whatever that looks like.”

“I think we have a significant impact — part of that is due to the fact that the hospital took the initiative to set this up, this is very much a part of the strategic plan. We've been able to have an influence and our voice has been heard.”

Advisors sit in on committees for initiatives such as the re-design of the emergency department, developing the handbook for people who have hip and knee surgery, and developing the information session for people who will be going through chemotherapy, just to name a few. Margo has previously been part of the strategic refresh committee, a member of the Research Ethics Board, influenza advisor for the vaccinate-or-mask policy and much more.

“For me, it's the fact that I can have this tiny influence on enhancing the care of patients in the hospital. I say enhance because I want people to understand that I really believe there is excellent care provided here.”

“I feel like I'm doing something that's of value – everybody has their own way and this is mine.”

The council is made up of former patients and family members of patients who have received care at North York General. Members of the council have had experiences in our medicine, emergency, surgery, oncology, mental health and paediatric programs. The council also includes the Vice President of Clinical Programs, Quality and Risk, and Chief Nursing Executive; Director of Patient Experience and Quality; Educator for Patient-and Family-Centred Care; Coordinator for Patient-and Family-Centred Care and two frontline staff.

Learn more about Patient-and Family-Centred Care at North York General Hospital.

This article first appeared in the December 2016January 2017 issue of The Pulse.

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