This winter, I had the privilege of attending the Children’s Healthcare Canada Conference in Ottawa in my role as a family advisor at ACH. I travelled with Sarah, a youth advisor
from CAYAC (the Child and Youth Advisory Council). Over the three-day event, we attended educational and networking sessions with healthcare professionals, partners, parent advisors, and other leaders in healthcare from across Canada. It was truly a unique
experience to hear from individuals who are experts in their field and leading the way for the future of children’s healthcare. As a parent, I was really inspired by the passion I saw and heard expressed in the corporate desire to continue to think innovatively
and more inclusively in reaching the goal of bettering healthcare for Canada’s kids.
A family’s story and perspective can be a powerful tool in reshaping the thoughts and hearts of those on the front lines, because it highlights the child as an individual, not just
a statistic. As an advisor, our ultimate hope is that we can be integrated throughout the process of healthcare design and decision making – to be embedded in planning and implementation.
Often, there are barriers to how often or in what ways families can be involved such as: childcare, role confusion, lack of opportunities (or not hearing about them), and time. However,
there is research happening and work being done to help family advisors be more engaged in their hospitals and feel fulfilled in their work. Only 50 percent of family advisors see themselves as peers with the healthcare professionals they work with, although
most say they do feel respected and rewarded in what they do. As we broaden the definition of family, we also make room for more voices to come to the table.
As family advisors we can ask ourselves, “how can we include more voices and perspectives at our tables?” as well as “how can we continue to advocate for all areas and initiatives
of healthcare to value and look for the family voice”? We have an amazing community all over Canada we can work with to think more strategically and creatively in these ways. As a parent, I feel truly blessed to be a part of such an amazing community that
makes up the Alberta Children's Hospital, as the respect and admiration of ACH extends across the country.
Laurel Pridgen - Advisor and Family Advisory Council Co-Chair