Nova Scotia Health patient family advisors launch national webinar series focused on building connections

Building Connections was the both the namesake and the main goal for patient family advisors Cyndi Corbett, Judy Porter, Carole McDougall and Donna Rubenstein when they started Nova Scotia’s first patient family advisor (PFA) webinar series with the support of Nova Scotia Health staff members Margaret Angus, Susan Dunn, and Michael Wheatley. 

After having to cancel their in-person conference last spring, the dedicated group of PFAs sprang into action. 

“We met weekly to plan and prepare for our new webinar series,” said Corbett. 

Planning for the webinar series was a huge undertaking for the small but savvy group of PFAs. 

“Many PFAs were feeling burnt out by the transition to the online world,” said Rubenstein.

“We had to figure out what topics would interest them most and inspire them to take action,” added Porter.

After many weeks of planning, the first PFA webinar took place in September – during Hurricane Teddy. 

“We were worried about connectivity and weather issues, but we really just wanted to get the PFAs in one place, to connect and provide feedback on where our next webinar should go,” remembered Porter. 

Despite the last-minute challenges posed by Hurricane Teddy, the first webinar was a resounding success. 

“We had more than 70 PFAs from across Nova Scotia participate,” said Corbett. 

Since then, the PFA webinar series has expanded nationally and now includes both PFAs and health care staff. 

In fact, January’s webinar had more than 120 registrants from nine provinces.  

“We wanted both sides to acknowledge the multitude of opportunities for PFAs to be included in the healthcare system,” said Porter. “Our goal is for PFAs to be embedded everywhere in Nova Scotia Health.”

“Expanding the webinar series to other provinces gave us an opportunity to showcase what Nova Scotia PFAs are doing and learn more about our opportunities to improve,” said Susan Dunn, engagement advisor at Nova Scotia Health.

Following January's webinar, facilitators prepared a report based on feedback gathered from the breakout rooms and participant surveys.

Moving forward, this information will help to optimize PFA involvement at Nova Scotia Health. 

“The surveys give us valuable evidence about PFA and staff experiences as we move through this process together,” said Porter. 

The third webinar of the series is expected to take place this spring. The team of PFAs are already looking forward to expanding on their previous successes by introducing new ways for PFAs across the country to connect, collaborate and share their experiences. 

“We want to build on what we’ve started,” said Corbett. 

“Our biggest themes are: connecting PFAs to support networks, helping them understand their expectations and working as a team with staff so we can improve health care in Nova Scotia,” said Porter.