Adviser Spotlight: Improving Your Cancer Care Experience

PFAB member Laura Galunas, nurse manager on the 8A acute care oncology unit

PFAB member Laura Galunas, nurse manager on the 8A acute care oncology unit

The Cancer Center’s Patient and Family Advisory Board was established in 2011 to ensure the delivery of exemplary patient- and family-centered care in the adult cancer areas of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. An active partnership of patients, family members, health care providers and members of the community works together to improve the cancer care experience. The advisory board provides input to the Cancer Center’s faculty, staff and administration on decisions and plans that affect patients and families.

Two of the most visible and impactful improvements to date were spearheaded by PFAB member Laura Galunas, nurse manager on the 8A acute care oncology unit at University Hospital. Galunas and the 8A nursing team led a two-year project to redesign the way nurses hand off patient care through shift exchange reports.

“Our goal was to move the process into the patient room instead of doing it in a conference room,” she says. “This allows patients to be included in their own care, to better understand the plan for the day and to validate the nurse’s assessment.”

The new process also puts nurses in their patients’ rooms earlier, giving them a jumpstart on the care process. Family members like it because they get to hear firsthand what is happening with their loved one’s treatment.

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The second patient and family-centered innovation is the “get-to-know-me” poster. Some patients are on 8A for three weeks or longer. The nurses and health care team wanted to find a way to personalize the patients’ care based on who they are outside of the hospital. The poster was developed and is now used in each room on 8A.

The idea is for patients to share information by filling in the movie-themed poster, which has space for details such as family and friends, favorite activities and things they like to do on a daily basis.

“We have more than 70 nursing staff members,” Galunas says. “The poster is a way for them to get to know their patients better. Patients who want to participate can complete it.”

Patients can reuse the poster during subsequent hospital stays. The goal is twofold: to provide a method for the health care team to get to know patients as people and a way for patients to express themselves.

Additional Information

Learn more about the mission of the Cancer Center’s Patient and Family Advisory Board, expectations for advisors and how to apply.

This article originally appeared in the Spring, 2014 issue of Thrive.

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