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For a while now, the phrase “patient & family centered care” (PFCC) has been used throughout the BC health care system. In February 2014, the BC Ministry of Health indicated the shift to this model of care in their report “Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System”, stating “Patient-centered care will be the foundational driver in the planning and implementation of all strategic actions in the health system strategy. The province will strive to deliver health care as a service built around the individual, not the provider and administration. We do this in collaboration with our health workforce and with patients.” In other developed countries such as the UK., this model has been in place much longer.

If you Google PFCC, a number of definitions pop up. Variations include “person & family centered care”, “client centered care”, and so forth. It’s confusing at times. Different countries & even different health districts within the same province define PFCC differently. I spent 1 ½ years with one of my local health care district’s PFCC committees, working on foundational documents that will be used to help ensure a shift to that model of care.

We ended up pouring over those PFCC documents over & over. No one wanted to miss anything. In a sincere effort to nail down the perfect definition of PFCC, we ended up rewriting those documents, over & over—until we just more or less ended up with our original definition.

During that same time period, I spoke at my health district’s leadership conference on the subject. I also moderated table sessions. Once we broke off into these smaller groups, I was taken aback by how often I, as a Patient Partner, was asked one key question: “what does PFCC actually mean?”. I found out that day that the heads of departments, physicians & health care professionals, had been so inundated by so many slightly varying terms of what PFCC means, that the true meaning was getting somewhat lost.

Soon after, in my role as co-chair of my health district’s PFCC Implementation Group, I was asked to add the Patient Partner’s P.O.V. to our physicians’ PFCC training module. Based on feedback from health professionals, other patients, my real-life experience of the health care system, and a number of years of researching the subject—I kept it as straightforward as possible since we all start to get bogged down by the many permutations of what patient & family centered care means.

In other words, regardless of which term is used, person, patient or client-centered, to describe the patient/health care professional relationship, at the end of the day, all of us just want to be treated respectfully & authentically in any given situation. Whether I end up seeking care at my G.P.’s office, at my local E.R., at my specialist’s office, at a walk-in clinic or at the hospital—I want to know that I will be approached with the kind of care that the health care professional across the room from me would expect in the same situation.

“…at the end of the day, all of us just want to be treated respectfully & authentically in any given situation.”

Remember that I know my body the best and I will remember that you have the professional knowledge to make it a positive experience regardless of how negative the circumstances are that brought us together. That’s the best form of patient & family centered care.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the BC Emergency Medicine Network.


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