It’s All About Relationships

Author: Karen Copeland

halifaxI recently had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Family Advisory Network (CFAN) annual workshop and the Canadian Association for Pediatric Health Care Centres annual conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I attended these conferences as a Family Representative for Sunnyhill Health Centre in Vancouver. It was an amazing (and full!) three days of learning and I wanted to capture some of this learning with  some infographics and a blog post.

One of the things I have strived to do with Champions for Community Mental Wellness is immerse myself in multiple systems of care, to take the time to learn about these. I believe this is important because it puts me in a better position to truly understand other perspectives. While our services and systems are silo’d and separate, quite often the challenges families are experiencing are not. As I suspected would happen, one of the key themes that emerged throughout the entire conference for me was the importance of relationships and building community. This message translates across all systems of care – whether it be health, education or children’s services, etc. So, you may be coming to this blog post from a particular service industry and wonder what might be in it for you, but I promise what I am sharing will likely apply to at least some aspect of your world.

First up is highlights from the CFAN workshop: Sharing What’s Working. This was an incredible day of learning and connecting, and even the view of the Halifax harbour couldn’t distract me. We heard from a parent, a researcher and a youth panel; and had plenty of opportunities to connect with one another and share our thoughts and ideas around patient and family centred care.

Click here to download pdf version

The CAPHC annual conference was jam packed with keynotes, plenaries and concurrent sessions. Click here to view the 2016 Program

Tim Caulfield entertained the attendees with “Scienceploitation” and the power of celebrity to promote quick fixes under the guise of healthy living. And while I laughed at the time at the various ‘fixes’ that were presented, I wondered … At what point does our incredulity or disdain at the lengths people will go to to get what they need further deepen the divide between the patient and provider? I walked away thinking about the importance of being curious — taking the time to understand what people are truly looking for when they buy in to these ‘interventions’. What need are they looking to have met? Is it one of feeling valued? connected?

This keynote also made me think about the ways Dr. Christine Chambers has been able to bring science and evidence based research to the larger parent and patient community through the #Itdoesnthavetohurt campaign. Dr. Chambers realized that parents are turning to the internet to find information, and instead of scoffing at this, she embraced it…she found a community champion and influencer who helped get her message about reducing needle pain from immunizations out to the world. Click here to watch the It Doesn’t Have to Hurt video.

I appreciated the strengths based focus of many of the presenters – encouraging a shift in language and perspectives to be more reflective of the goals of patient and family centred care. Sometimes the smallest changes of language can have a huge impact, driving us forward instead of keeping us stuck or overwhelmed with the idea that systemic change moves at a glacier pace.

Click here to download pdf version

It was interesting attending this conference as an “outsider” as I am not necessarily embedded in or significantly attached to a major health care centre. It was sometimes challenging to hear only the systems perspective, but when I connected and networked with conference attendees there was genuine interest in my family experience and the work I am doing through Champions.

I am grateful to Sunnyhill Health Centre for providing me with the opportunity to attend this conference. It was an honour to serve as the Family Representative, and I applaud you for taking the steps to ensure the family voice had representation and value.

For more about the conference, please read this wonderful and poignant post from Sue Robins: Behind the Boy in the Moon.

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