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Patient Experience Week 2021

District partners with patients to improve care.

Three people sitting around a table on couches; socially distancing
SydneyConnect Image: Consumer and Community Participation Coordinators

Lara Leibbrandt is dedicated to bettering patient experience.

"My job is to support patients, families and carers during their health care journey and to examine ways staff can partner with them to improve their experience," she said.

Today marks the start of Patient Experience Week, a global campaign to recognise the significant role health care professionals and support staff play in improving patient experience.

Ms Leibbrandt is one of a team of Consumer and Community Participation Coordinators at Sydney Local Health District.

Consumer and community participation is about involving people who use health care services in making decisions about them - stretching from a patient's bedside to District-wide services.

"It's about people making decisions about their own health care, such as what treatment options to take or which service to use," Ms Leibbrandt, who's the Coordinator at RPA, said.

It also includes people being involved in the District's service planning, policy development, setting priorities and addressing quality issues in the delivery of health care services.

At RPA, a 13-member Consumer and Community Participation Advisory Network meets monthly to share the patient's perspective.

The Network's members sit on key committees, working groups or project groups as a patient voice; are involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and projects; and make recommendations for performance and quality improvement.

"They're passionate about helping to improve patient care. They make a valuable contribution by sharing their point of view to ensure our services meet the needs of the people they're designed to assist," Ms Leibbrandt said.

Research shows consumer participation is associated with positive clinical and operational outcomes. It improves patient satisfaction levels, while other benefits include fewer deaths, lower re-admission rates, lower health care costs and fewer complaints.

Ms Leibbrandt is focussed on setting up further initiatives to strengthen the partnership between clinicians, patients, their families and carers to achieve the best health outcomes for patients.

One initiative, RPA Consumer Rounding Visits, involves a patient, family member or a member of the Network, visiting a clinical area for discussions with key clinicians about their experience and to help shape strategies to improve patient care.

"It provides an opportunity for clinicians and patients to collaborate to explore the patient's health care journey - what was done well and what could be done better. It makes our services more relevant to our patients and helps improve health care outcomes," she said.

There are Consumer and Community Participation Coordinators for Balmain, Concord, Canterbury and Sydney Dental hospitals plus Community Health, Aged, Chronic Care and Rehabilitation and the state's first virtual hospital, rpavirtual.