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Introducing Our New Patients and Family Advisory Council Guides

Health Quality Ontario releases three new informative guides for patient and family advisory councils.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that Health Quality Ontario (HQO) believes in patient engagement to improve health care quality. “Engaging patients in improving care” is one of the five priorities in our recently launched strategic plan, Better Has No Limit.

We know when we work with patients, and focus closely on understanding patient experience and outcomes, we can gain different insights into high or low quality care across the health system. We also know that it is not always easy for health care organizations to know how to engage with patients and similarly patients may not know how to participate with health care organizations.

Our online hub of tools and resources is designed to help patients and health care organizations alike learn how to effectively engage with each other. The hub has already received very positive feedback and we are committed to expanding the resources available. In talking with patients and patient advisory councils, we recently realized a need for tools to help councils just starting out or those in need of a refresher.

One patient advisor, for example, shared her earliest experiences as part of her hospital’s patient advisory council. “It felt like we were part of a great experiment,” said Diane. “It was the first time we had created an advisory council, and we didn’t really know where to start.”

Echoing Diane’s sentiment, Walter, who is involved with patient and family experience and community engagement at that same hospital, said: “Our council had some growing pains when it was first starting out, as I imagine most councils do.” Walter says they found their footing and developed an orientation guide. “We effectively wrote our own playbook. ‘Start slow and grow’ became our motto.”

Writing your own playbook can be time-consuming and hard. To help patients and organizations, we’ve created a series of Patient and Family Advisory Council Guides to help create and sustain councils. The guides have been created in response to feedback from patients and providers about specific topics where there weren’t any existing tools or resources.

The three guides are:

“Choosing Meaningful Projects,”

“Creating an Effective Terms of Reference” and

“Recruiting for Diversity”

Created in consultation with patients and providers, the guides are meant to be applicable across all parts of the health care system and designed to help patient advisory councils in long-term care homes, hospitals, primary care and other organizations make significant contributions within their organizations.

Please share them generously. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to Health Quality Ontario with any questions or suggestions for improvement at


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