Introduction

The relatively new government in Ontario, through the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, has released the province’s new  Patient Declaration of Values. The document was prepared for the Ministry by the Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). The PFAC is a formalized body that provides advice and recommendations to the Minister on matters relating to patients, families, caregivers and the health system.

Purpose

As stated in their own news release:

The Declaration is a vision that articulates a path toward patient partnership across the health care system in Ontario. It describes a set of foundational principles that are considered from the perspective of Ontario patients and serves as a guidance document for those involved in our health care system.

The Declaration champions the shift for the role of patients, families and caregivers across the health care system in Ontario and outlines expectations about values, resources and supports that should be prioritized.

It is intended to serve as a guide at all levels of the health care system for the planning and delivery of health care policy, programs and services. The focus is on the patients and their becoming partners within the system.

Core Elements

The Declaration is grounded in five core elements that all deal with how health care should be delivered to patients. They are:

Respect and Dignity

  1. We expect that our individual identity, beliefs, history, culture, and ability will be respected in our care.
  2. We expect health care providers will introduce themselves and identify their role in our care.
  3. We expect that we will be recognized as part of the care team, to be fully informed about our condition, and have the right to make choices in our care.
  4. We expect that families and caregivers be treated with respect and seen as valuable contributors to the care team.
  5. We expect that our personal health information belongs to us, and that it remain private, respected and protected.

Empathy and Compassion

  1. We expect health care providers will act with empathy, kindness, and compassion.
  2. We expect individualized care plans that acknowledge our unique physical, mental and emotional needs.
  3. We expect that we will be treated in a manner free from stigma and assumptions.
  4. We expect health care system providers and leaders will understand that their words, actions, and decisions strongly impact the lives of patients, families and caregivers.

Accountability

  1. We expect open and seamless communication about our care.
  2. We expect that everyone on our care team will be accountable and supported to carry out their roles and responsibilities effectively.
  3. We expect a health care culture that values the experiences of patients, families and caregivers and incorporates this knowledge into policy, planning and decision making.
  4. We expect that patient/family experiences and outcomes will drive the accountability of the health care system and those who deliver services, programs, and care within it.
  5. We expect that health care providers will act with integrity by acknowledging their abilities, biases and limitations.
  6. We expect health care providers to comply with their professional responsibilities and to deliver safe care.

Transparency

  1. We expect we will be proactively and meaningfully involved in conversations about our care, considering options for our care, and decisions about our care.
  2. We expect our health records will be accurate, complete, available and accessible across the provincial health system at our request.
  3. We expect a transparent, clear and fair process to express a complaint, concern, or compliment about our care and that it not impact the quality of the care we receive.

Equity and Engagement

  1. We expect equal and fair access to the health care system and services for all regardless of place of origin, background, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, marital or family status, education, ethnicity, race, religion, socioeconomic status or location within Ontario.
  2. We expect that we will have opportunities to be included in health care policy development and program design at local, regional and provincial levels of the health care system.

Takeaways

The document serves as a guide to the reasonable and necessary expectations of patients when receiving care. This was a consultive report with opportunities being made for input from patients, caregivers, volunteers and the community. Although many hospitals and care facilities have their own codes or standards in place, this is a province-wide declaration for all of Ontario. It will be interesting to see how it is used and by whom. It will no doubt be relied upon for standard of care arguments in the future.

At Wise Health Law, we rely on our significant experience with the complaint process for all health care professionals, our experience before discipline panels of various regulatory Colleges and Review Boards to provide our clients with exceptional guidance and representation through the often-overwhelming discipline process. We also have significant experience before the civil courts, enabling us to provide our clients with exceptional guidance and representation through the often-overwhelming negligence litigation process. To find out more about how we can help, contact us online, or at 416-915-4234 for a consultation.

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