Listening, not just hearing, highlighted on special day

Left to right: Patient Lorraine Keogh, Blacktown Mount Druitt Acting General manager Jude Constable.

A simple idea, originating in Scotland and which has spread across the world, is connecting health workers with their patients and clients like never before.

This year, the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), for the first time, took part in ‘What matters to you?’ day on June 6.

According to its founders, the day “aims to encourage and support more meaningful conversations between people who provide health and social care and the people, families and carers who receive health and social care.”

Its core principals are: ask what matters; listen to what matters; do what matters.

It also seeks to develop greater intent to simply listen, to listen deeply and to understand.

Now in its third year, the global movement has spread to Australia, where executives from the WSLHD took part, engaging with patients and asking what matters to them when accessing health services.

“Quite often, when we talk to patients, we kind of think we know what’s really important for them but it’s different when you actually ask what matters to you,” said Wendy Cain, Patient and Carer Experience Manager at the WSLHD.

“People could have really difficult things happening in their life that’s making it very difficult for them that day.

“It might not be all the things that we think of and unless we ask those questions we sometimes can’t understand our patients in their own personal context.”

WSLHD executives absorbed feedback from patients using the My Experience Matters survey – pioneered by WSLHD.

It is the first real-time survey of patient experience, with data gathered via patient entertainment systems, from staff using ipads, or through mobile devices.

It assesses the patient experience in lots of different ways.

“It’s a touchstone, real-time experience of speaking to our patients,” Ms Cain said.

“We spoke to a gentleman who was in the gastro ward and what was really important to him that day was that his family were all there.

“He said what had mattered to him was that he was seen quickly and that his family was included in his care and that he was given information quickly and he fed back that all of that had happened and it had made his experience a really positive one.

“Overall, he said the kindness of our staff had been really important to him,” she said.

‘What matters to you?’ day was observed this year at Westmead, Auburn and Blacktown hospitals and through the WSLHD’s integrated health unit.

It will be held at a later date at Mt Druitt Hospital.

“We ask patients, were you treated with kindness and respect, were you included as much as you wanted to be in care and would you recommend our services to your families or friends if they were in a similar situation,” Ms Cain said.