Calgary Health Foundation

Putting the Patient First

Stroke and spinal cord patients have a better road to recovery as the highly touted Brain Injury Patient Experience Strategist program is expanding to spinal cord injuries thanks to the generosity of the law office of Cuming & Gillespie.

Working with a strategist means the patient receives a variety of tools which ensure they feel like they are in charge of their care. These tools include a Patient Passport which improves and standardizes education provided to stroke survivors and their families; I.N.S.P.I.R.E.S. a peer support program, a patient reference group and a way to measure the patient's experience. 

"Our patients benefit from excellent outcomes, but it's really important that we provide a good patient experience as well. This has implications for all of our health care team," said Dr. Rajiv Midha, Department Head, Clinical Neurosciences.

Chelsie Balsie, a former patient, is excited to hear about the program's expansion.  Involved in a serious motor vehicle accident when she was 26, she had not only broken bones but a brain injury. 

"During my time in hospital it became clear to me that my injuries would have a lifelong impact on me and my ability to work and care for myself." Said Chelsie, "At that time there was no formal Patient Experience Program on my unit, however, hospital staff, survivors and volunteers helped me understand the rehabilitation process and made my time in hospital a positive one. I am very happy to hear that a formal program is in place to support those who need the assistance the program will provide."  

The existing stroke program in Calgary has already shown a statistically significant increase in positive patient experience compared to the four other AHS zones. Individuals who have been through the program say that they have a better understanding of the information given to them about stroke, they feel like their needs and wishes are being taken into account and they feel that they are better able to participate and deal with life events since discharge.

Craig Gillespie and James Cuming, principles at Cuming and Gillespie legal firm, saw the benefits the program had on stroke patients and wanted to grow the program for the others in the Clinical Neuroscience department at Foothills Medical Centre.

The donation from Cuming & Gillespie will ensure that there is funding in place for two part time positions. The first is a Patient Experience Strategist responsible for leading the stroke and brain injury Patient Experience Program and the second is the brand new Patient Experience Lead who will be responsible for developing a Patient Experience Program for spinal cord injury.

"Our ultimate goal is to spread the great work done by the Calgary Stroke Program with respect to patient experience across all of our client groups," said Cathy Edmond, Executive Director Dept. of Clinical Neurosciences, "We know this work makes a big difference to our patients, their families, our care teams, and we now need to make sure all of our patients can benefit from this."

The Patient Experience Team will be available to help the 400 new spinal cord injury patients per year and more than 2500 new patients who have suffered a stroke or brain injury every year.

If you would like to support the Patient Experience Team and ensure more patients receive this wonderful service please email Cicely Patrick or call 403-943-0614.

To find out  more about the I.N.S.P.I.R.E.S program watch the following CTV News clip on Lori Beaver, Patient Experience Strategist for the Calgary Stroke Program: