UHN’s new Patient Declaration of Values reflects ‘true partnership’ in care

From the very first moment of a patient’s care journey, each interaction with hospital staff – a smile, a compassionate word, a moment of kindness or show of transparency – shapes their memories of an inherently difficult and stressful time.

“The health care system can be difficult to navigate alone,” says Jermaine O’Connor, a UHN Patient Partner. “It’s important that health care workers know that every interaction they have with patients holds great meaning and that when we empathize, we empower.”

It’s with this very sentiment that UHN launches a refreshed Patient Declaration of Values (PDoV) in tandem with Patient Experience Week, which starts Monday, April 25. It’s a time to celebrate staff who are making a positive impact on the patient experience.

The newest version of UHN’s PDoV supports TeamUHN’s longstanding commitment to providing exemplary care and has been thoughtfully and deliberately crafted through the voice of UHN’s patient and caregiver community.

In tandem with Patient Experience Week, UHN is launching a refreshed Patient Declaration of Values. (Image: UHN)

“This is not simply a document that will be posted on a wall,” says Kerseri Scane, UHN Manager of Patient Engagement for Healthcare Improvement. “Patients have told us that they trust UHN to uphold these values and that these values matter.

“They need to be reflected upon and used to foster a culture of relational caring and true partnership.”

Referred to as “A Compass for Our Care,” the Declaration of Values has been revisited and refreshed through the voices of UHN’s patient and caregiver community. It uses more than 1000 points of data brought forward through the engagement with patients and families who were involved in interviews, surveys and collaborative discussions since May 2019.

“The Patient Declaration of Values is a guide for staff to provide care that is truly reflective of what matters most to their patients and families.” says Pam Breese, Patient Partner Sponsor for the PDoV.

‘A new brand of health care that reflects a system of partnership’

Patients determined the values optimal for their care are: respect and dignity; empathy and compassion; accountability; transparency; equity and partnership. Patients and families also articulated what each value meant to them and told us how they felt these values could be lived out by staff.

“These values bring trust back into health care and ensure that patients and families receive the care they expect and deserve,” says Peter Kyriakides, Patient Partner Sponsor for the PDoV.

Having overseen the development of the refreshed values, Laura Williams, UHN’s Senior Director of Patient Experience and Engagement, says when it comes to patient-led design, there has been a cultural transformation occurring in our health system.

“We have gone from a system where patients have been offered only a passive role in their care to one in which it’s recognized their knowledge and needs are an imperative component to high quality, safe and trusting health care experiences,” she says.

“We are, thankfully, moving towards a new brand of health care that reflects a system of partnership, where patients are respected and where their care is coordinated and no longer built in silos.”

Emphasizing that UHN is taking an active role in leading this person-centered care movement, Laura points to the development and publication of a related manuscript “A Compass for Our Care: Leadership that Enables a Culture of People-Centred Care”. Released by Longwoods Publishing in 2021, the document, which highlights both the way the Patient Declaration of Values was developed and how its values are being embedded across UHN, is now being highlighted for other health care organizations.

As part of Patient Experience Week celebrations, UHN has created a series of heart-warming videos honouring providers who uphold our Patient Declaration of Values on a daily basis.

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