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Logistics: CCO's PFAC Experience
“It is important to have a contact person that they know that they could go to for logistical questions.”
–PFAC staff member


Expense Reimbursement

  • 1 meal (lunch or breakfast) was reimbursed to council members depending on the meeting time
  • All expenses were required to be strictly accounted for, and under set limits by the organization
  • Technology:
  • Audio/video recordings of council members or council meetings were not permitted by the Research Ethics Board, unless only organizational staff were on camera or Standardized Patients/Actors were employed (i.e., for training purposes)
  • Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) was accessed for council meetings – site coordinators at regional cancer centres were contacted to help with set-up when council members chose to remotely access meetings from their centres – pre-booking is required (contact your OTN support team)

Meeting Location

  • All training and meetings were hosted by CCO and held in the ELLICSR Health, Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Centre at Toronto General Hospital (fully outfitted with OTN access, kitchen and eating area, boardrooms and training space)

Questions that came up

  • How do we determine accessibility requirements for individual council members?
  • What are reasonable reimbursement policies around travelling, meals, accommodation, parking?
  • At what distance will we encourage council members to remotely access the meetings versus travelling?
  • If multiple organizations are involved, where is it best to meet? 
  • Can we videotape or audio-record council sessions?  Whose permission/consent do we need?
  • Is there a point that technology becomes limiting for effective participation? (i.e. remote access)
  • What amount and kinds of materials express our appreciation for and acknowledgement of the participation of patients and family members on council?
  • How do we effectively survey council members around meal preferences/limitations?
  • What information do we need to provide to council members around expense reimbursement, what is required from them?
  • How often are washroom and meal breaks needed during a day of training or a multi-hour council meeting?
“Something that we learned from the training was introducing new people half-way through was counter-productive…it changed the dynamic between people really fast.”
–PFAC staff member

Lessons Learned & Recommendations

Expense Reimbursement

  • Ensure clear understanding and communication of all organizational expense parameters and claim process with regards to travel, meals, accommodation and parking before placing any orders/booking requests (all council members and organizational planning team)


  • Identify the point-person for all logistical details and questions and establish regular working meetings/updates to ensure everything is taken care of.
  • The point-person should be made available to the Council members for any logistical questions like, “How do I get my parking reimbursed?” Or the direction to walk from the hotel to the meeting area.

Materials/Technology & Room Bookings

  • Ensure that booked rooms can fully support all intended technology and/or material intended for use in meetings (down to ensuring that tape can be applied to the walls!)
  • Keep slide presentations short so that they are getting the meat of the issue and leave the rest of the time for explanation about what is expected from the Council based on the information that was given to them.

Virtual and electronic council meetings

It is ideal to have in-person council meetings.  However, this method might not be feasible for all members, particularly those at great distances from the meeting venue.  Feasibility might relate to additional time away from home and family or work that can create a hardship over time and interfere with member participation.  To offset this potential issue, organizations should consider other communication and engagement strategies such as the use of virtual meetings.  Virtual meetings can be held via conference call or video conferencing or Skype, or LiveMeeting; there are many different options to consider.  We use video conferencing for council meetings as a way to ‘see’ each person and communicate effectively.  However, it is essential that there is dedicated time to orient the members to how video conferencing works; what to anticipate; how to use the system; and as an organization, we set up the video conferencing and pay the costs for the use of the technology.  The members receive the instructions from local sites on which room; and there is always technical help in the room or close by to assist if anything goes awry.

Being respectful of the time commitment of the advisors is essential; thus the suggestion to consider multiple ways to engage them fully in the activities of the council.

Style of meeting and agenda

Organizations select the ways in which the meetings are structured.  As described above, the co-chairs create the agenda together; and build from actions of the previous meeting as well as identifying new areas of business, or what results have been demonstrated. The structure may include: formal presentations; small group discussions; large group discussion; and so on. It is fundamental that each member of the council is engaged in the discussion; feedback is solicited; and every issue is addressed.

In our experience, we include opening with what each member anticipates the council to do that meeting; and ends with the question: this would be even better if…..?  

Last modified: Thu, Dec 27, 2012
cancer care ontario | action cancer ontario   620 University Avenue Toronto Ontario, Canada M5G 2L7   Phone: 416.971.9800 Fax: 416.971.6888

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