The World Health Organization (WHO) made patient engagement a priority in 2005 by creating the Patients for Patient Safety (PFPS) Programme and launching a global network of PFPS Champions committed to the vision and pledge for partnership described in the London Declaration “to make care as safe as possible as soon as possible”.
Patients for Patient Safety Canada (PFPSC) is the patient-led program of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Canadian arm of the WHO PFPS network. Since 2006, PFPSC members have partnered in hundreds of patient safety initiatives across Canada at international, national, provincial and local levels.
In February 2019, the WHO’s PFPS Advisory Group invited the Canadian Patient Safety Institute to help guide the global effort to enhance patient and family engagement for the provision of safer health care. Attendees acknowledged the extraordinary success of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and PFPSC partnership in Canada, considering it an exemplary model that should be replicated in other countries.
At the meeting, the group discussed the recent WHO Executive Board Global Action on Patient Safety resolution (February 1, 2019), which urged member countries to recognize patient safety as a key priority. It recommends several actions to improve safety, including engaging patients/patient groups as partners. The WHO Director General was asked to submit a progress report on the status of implementation of this resolution in 2021; therefore, this resolution presents an extraordinary opportunity for the WHO PFPS program and global community.
Sharon Nettleton, one of PFPSC’s founding members and a past co-chair of the volunteer network, has seen great changes in patient engagement making care safer since PFPSC was formed more than a decade ago. “Our impact is seen here in Canada and around the world too,” says Sharon. “Many things we first envisioned when PFPSC began have come true – we’ve played a major role in developing and improving policies and practices, and in education and communication by bringing our perspectives and experiences forward. We’ve changed hearts and minds by role modeling patient engagement and demonstrating how successfully it can work. Instead of being seen as ‘individuals driven by anger or grief’, we are now viewed as ‘needed partners’ who want to be part of ‘needed improvements.’ Our work empowers us to continue and also encourages others to engage and contribute as patient partners.”
In Canada, PFPSC regularly reviews and revises its goals and priorities to ensure they advance safe care. The group is confident their current priorities are well aligned with the recommendations in the 2019 WHO resolution. These include medication safety, engaging the public and elected officials in advancing safe care, and partnering with other patient groups to advance common patient safety goals.
“Over the last decade, PFPSC has progressed from being asked to share their experiences, to now increasingly being asked to contribute as full members of committees, boards, faculty and teams. It has been a real culture shift to help improve safety,” says Linda Hughes, PFPSC Co-Chair. “We have championed not only our patient safety cause but also how to effectively engage and empower patients. We have developed a very credible and influential community of patient and family partners across Canada. We are committed to the long-term journey ahead where patients and families are seen as true partners as common practice in every interaction, every setting, and every health system level.”
In April 2017, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute was designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Patient Safety and Patient Engagement. To date, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute is the only Collaborating Centre in the world to receive the patient engagement designation.