Thursday, July 25, 2024

$10.6m to improve hospital experience for patients

The NSW Government has announced it will invest $10.6 million to make ‘patient experience officers’ available across all NSW hospitals, in a bid to relieve pressure on busy clinicians and improving patient wellbeing. 

Patient experience officers provide additional support in emergency departments (EDs) to patients, carers and their families. These officers are the first point of contact for patients when they arrive. They can provide advice and information on ED processes and waiting times to patients and their carers to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Importantly, the Government says it also eases the workload on busy clinicians so they can focus on treating patients.

“Our emergency departments are under more pressure than ever before,” said Minister for Health, Ryan Park.

“When people and their loved ones arrive at a busy ED, it can often be a stressful and anxious event.

“Patient experience officers are there to welcome patients and their families, and provide support in difficult and challenging circumstances.

“I’m so pleased we are ensuring their role in our hospitals to continue to provide kind and compassionate care.”

A recent evaluation report has shown the positive impact patient experience officers have had on both patients and hospital staffs’ experiences and wellbeing in hospital EDs, as well patient health outcomes, the Government said in a statement.

The Evaluation of the NSW Health Emergency Department Patient Experience Officer report found more than 85% of respondents agreed the position was ‘successful’, ‘moderately successful’ or ‘very successful’, with patient experience officers rated highly for patient communication in the waiting room (89.7%) followed by managing stress/anxiety (81.6%).

“This is a rewarding role that allows you to really make a difference in the local community,” said Patient Experience Officer, Sunita Oberholzer.

“Coming to work each day with the knowledge that I am going to positively impact many people’s days has been an immense privilege.
“It is deeply gratifying to know that you are helping patients and their families feel more comfortable with their hospital experience, especially during stressful times.

“This in turn creates a flow-on effect which improves the staff’s ability to provide exceptional care.”

Patient experience officers were first introduced in some NSW hospitals in July 2019 during a period of high demand in EDs. Following the success of the pilot program, patient experience officers are now available across all Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks.

For more information on the Emergency Department Patient Experience Program visit: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/patients/experience/Pages/emergency-department.aspx.

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