On May 13, The Department of Patient and Family Engagement hosted their first Family Advisor Appreciation Celebration. The picnic themed event was organized to honor family advisors who have provided their ideas, compassion, and time to Texas Children’s.
Over 20 years ago senior administration and faculty leadership invited a group of families with extensive hospital experience to provide a consumer perspective on expansion plans. This resulted in the establishment of a formal, interdisciplinary Family Advisory Board (FAB), charting the course for continued collaboration on quality, safety and patient experience initiatives.
Years later, Texas Children’s became one of the first pediatric hospital’s to hire a full-time parent Family-Centered Care (FCC) Specialist to support the FAB and facilitate family engagement system-wide. As the program grew, the Department of Patient and Family-Centered Care, was created which included service-specific advisory groups, with extended opportunities created for families to participate.
“Patient and family advisors represent the fabric of our mission. By partnering with advisors directly, we understand how they experience care through the perspective of their very personal and vivid lens,” Director of Patient and Family Services, Katie Kalenda-Daggett said. “They not only inform us, but they also motivate us to remain and grow as an ever improving and evolving organization.”
The celebration began as employees and family advisors mingled in the Pavilion for Women’s fourth floor conference rooms to the DJ’s smooth tunes and the alluring aroma of popcorn and a buffet with a variety of delicious foods. Past the tables with red and white picnic table cloths was a photo booth in the corner of the room. The Texas Children’s ukulele choir opened with 5 beautiful songs, then a small program followed with a welcome from Daggett and the presentation of pins to long-standing family advisors.
Darius and Desiree Bradley were amongst the advisors honored for being a part of the program for more than nine years, and they don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
“It has been a joyful experience for us. Our daughter is a frequent flyer of Texas Children’s Hospital,” Desiree Bradley said as she briefly touched on their connection to the hospital. “They’re going to have to roll me out of here in my wheelchair. I’ll be hugging babies, holding babies, reading to somebody, waving on the bridge, and advising parents as long as I can.”
Upon being discharged from the NICU years ago, a nurse approached the Bradleys about being a part of the FAB. They began as volunteers for focus groups and proceeded to work tirelessly with the FCC. Darius Bradley says that his experience as a father of a hospitalized child combined with his passion for helping others catapulted his efforts to become a voice for others.
“I know that transitioning into this lifestyle can be overwhelming, so I wanted to become a resource for other parents, Bradley said. “When you’ve been where they are and still continuing on your journey, it brings a sense of relief, and assurance to them. I can see the weight lifted off of their shoulders as I speak with them continuously.”
Formerly known as the Family Centered Care (FCC) program, the Department of Patient & Family Engagement partners with our Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs) to help to promote family-centered care across the System. Over the past year, PFA involvement has expanded beyond the Medical Center campus to West Campus, The Pavilion for Women, The Woodlands, and Austin, with over 250 registered PFAs. Texas Children’s PFAs have also reinforced their impact by participating in many conferences and system committees such as the Nursing Quality Improvement Council, the leader rounding simulations and The CLABSI Prevention Team, just to name a few.
“I just want to thank you all for everything that you do for Texas Children’s,” Assistant Director of Patient and Family Services, Aileen Rago said, as she delivered the final words during the ceremony. “Know that while there’s so much still to be done, we truly appreciate how far we’ve come. We are grateful for all of our Texas Children’s advisors.”