Patient experience experts bolster western Sydney emergency departments

Western Sydney’s new patient experience coordinators (PECs) outside Westmead Hospital. Each PEC rotates between the District’s four emergency departments.

Kindness wears a bright pink vest in our emergency departments (EDs).

One of the first faces that welcome patients in EDs across Western Sydney Local Health District (WLSHD) is the patient experience coordinators (PECs) in their standout pink vest.

These dedicated staff members are on hand to create an environment that makes patients, carers and their families feel welcomed, safe, cared-for and empowered as they navigate their ED journey.

They are a friendly face to help patients understand what to expect during their visit, and can provide information in a patient’s own language to their phone via the GoShare digital platform. They also assist patients to access refreshments while they wait and even help keep devices charged.

Patient experience coordinator Sandra Byrne recounted one example of how she was able to make a significant difference.

“I was able to help a mother of a patient by accessing an interpreter so the doctor could explain what was happening with her son,” Sandra said.

“She was reassured and understood why he had to stay in hospital. The doctor was really grateful as well and came and thanked me.”

Following a successful trial during which the PECs saw nearly 19,000 patients in the first six months of the program, new coordinators were added to each of our EDs in October 2021.

They work with administration and clinical staff to keep patients updated about waiting times – which also helps other staff.

“They have been doing a fantastic job and are both extremely helpful to the patients and to the staff in ED,” Mount Druitt Hospital ED administration officer Lisa Sultana said.

“They are both very personable and a breath of fresh air to have around.”

Westmead Hospital ED nurse unit manager Donna Robertson added: “They are able to help to advocate for patients, keep patient families informed and escalate concerns to the clinical staff in the department.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are given information about the Aboriginal Liaison Officers and asked if they would like to engage with the service. All patients are provided with access to the My Experience Matters survey to provide feedback which is used to improve patient experience in ED.

Since the program commenced, there has been a significant reduction in people who did not wait to see a nurse or a doctor when the PECs are on duty between 11.30am to 10pm seven days a week. Over 16,000 patients have been able to access information in their preferred language in the first 12 months of the program.

The PECs have also been critical through COVID-19 in assisting patients to receive visitor and infection control information, comply with social distancing and wearing of masks.

Their success has seen WSLHD receive funding from NSW Health to extend this program to June 2024.

For more information, please contact the Patient and Carer Experience Team: