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Form: CCO's PFAC Experience
“One of the things that was most powerful in bonding the group together was hearing about each other’s experiences.”
– PFAC staff member


Orientation and Skill-building:

  • All council members received a preparation package (staff and patients/family) prior to convening together for the first time at the training session
  • A 2-day training workshop was hosted and facilitated by: CCO Chair and staff, UHN research team and a professional facilitator from U of T Continuing Education

 Topics included: 

  • Welcome, training objectives for both days
  • Introductions – council members and organizational staff
  • Overview of CCO and the research study
  • Council operations, roles and objectives, terms of reference
  • Education & exercises: group dynamics and shared leadership, consensus-building, ‘even better ifs’ (EBI’s)
  • Exercises: defining patient experiences, telling your story and applying these to council objectives
  • Mock council meeting
  • All council members were given a binder containing training handouts and organizational material
  • In-person participation was mandatory for training (travel, accommodation, meals and parking expenses were reimbursed)
  • Council members indicated it was essential to be able to share their health stories with each other as part of their effective forming
  • Despite 3 opportunities to share aspects of their stories with each other during training, council members indicated they wanted to hear more
  • Ongoing conversation:
  • All council members were invited to continue informal discussions in a secure forum on
  • It was suggested that all members complete their profiles with their bio or ‘story’ so that current and new members could understand the context of where their comments were coming from. Personal video bios were also suggested.
  • Most council members agreed to sharing their email addresses and contact information with each other, however some did not want their emails shared. Email communications was sent through ‘blind carbon copy’ or BCC to protect members’ privacy.

Questions that came up

  • How do we support council members to share their stories in timely and effective ways?
  • How do we connect patient/family experiences to the objectives of the council?
  • How do we empower council members to participate fully and confidently on council, and with responsibility for the quality of their participation?
  • What do council members need to know about the organization and the council in order to be informed, trusting and confident about their participation?
  • How will we provide support for council members who have questions, concerns or issues with the council?  
  • What is our ideal outcome for a well-performing council, and how do we support that progression?
“I think that there’s energy in people’s stories, and that everybody gets to hear those, everybody benefits”
– PFAC member

Lessons Learned & Recommendations

Group dynamics and shared leadership

Consensus-building (versus democratic vote or compromise) requires clear understanding, reinforcement through practice and modeling

Council in relation to Organization, Council Roles

Understanding of the council in relation to the organization, and the role of the council member is essential for confident and effective participation


Formal recognition and expression of appreciation is integral.  Members want to know not only that their voice is heard, but also that their influence is making an impact.  Recognition from senior leaders and the board is important, since they set the purpose of the Council.

In other instances, members might be offered the opportunity to attend a conference, as a participant or a co-presenter. This is an important way to recognize the ways in which the member plays a substantive role in the organization.

Summarizing key points

An effective strategy that is useful for Council members is to summarize the key points of each discussion. The co-chairs have the responsibility to outline and ask for confirmation of key points from the discussions; by doing so the individuals acknowledge the suggestions, can clarify points, or correct the impression, and are recognized for the contributions they make.

Defining “Patient Experience”

One of the first activities that the Council completed was discussing and defining what “patient experience” meant to them. Council members were asked to provide three words that they would use to define patient experience. All of the words mentioned were recorded, including words that may have been repeated by more than one member, and were used to create a piece of word art, called a “Wordle”.

Last modified: Thu, Dec 27, 2012
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