Children's Patients Council
Over the past few years, the involvement of the public has become more common throughout the world on both private and public levels. This is also true in many global health organizations and hospitals, where patients and their families have already been participating for some time in decisions about organization and work processes, with the understanding that involving patients improves the quality and safety of treatment as well as patient satisfaction.
One of the accepted methods around the world is to involve patients in hospitals through the establishment of Patient Councils that serve as a consulting body within the hospital. The Council holds discussions about improving work processes and the patient/parent experience, developing solutions, and services.
Schneider Children's is the first hospital in Israel that has joined this wave and recently established the first Patients Council for children and adolescents. The first of a series of planned gatherings included six children and youth from different population sectors, all patients of Schneider in the various departments and clinics. Thus, Schneider has joined leading pediatric hospitals worldwide which accord children an opportunity to share their personal thoughts without parental mediation.
At the Children's Patients Council that convened in the presence of hospital CEO Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev, participants included Efrat Milner, Director of the Services and Patient Experience Unit, Efrat Harel, Director of Social Services, Maskit Gillan Shochat, Director of the Educational Center at the hospital, and other staff members. Patients raised various topics connected with their treatment and stay in the hospital such as communication with medical and other staff, and conditions of hospitalization. The children discussed how hospitalization stay and time might be made more pleasant for various age groups, and the need to be in touch with other children suffering from similar conditions.
One of the important issues raised by the children was the relationship between the medical teams and themselves, and the way in which information about their condition was conveyed: "It is important that they relate to us as adults and not only speak with our parents; they should tell us the truth even when it is tough, but in a calm manner. They should leave us with room for hope", said one patient. Another issue raised was talking about their disease with their close circle and school, and the need that the hospital partner with them about the best way to tell others about their illness. The children also asked that thought be given to how best to interact with parents and to care for their comfort and welfare during their hospitalization. At the same time, they were pleased that the medical teams had given them guidance about speaking about their condition, thus giving them a sense of responsibility, control and empowerment.
Dr. Harlev greeted the gathering and said that "Schneider Children's, as the one and only hospital of its kind for children, engraved on its flag its vision that children and their world are the core of the therapeutic process. Therefore, it is natural to listen to children and learn from them as well as to expose them to how matters operate. By sharing these processes with them, we grant them 'above and beyond' - that typifies the hospital."
Ms. Milner noted that "the aim of the Council is to allow an open discussion between patient representatives and hospital management. This is a unique process involving patients with the objective to hear what our patients have to say, their unique intelligence and their special point of view. This gives us an indication of their real needs."