Meet Lena, Executive Director of the Office of Patient-Centred Measurement & Improvement

Lena works as the Provincial Executive Director for the Office of Patient-Centred Measurement & Improvement. She has been a part of the project since its infancy and has been vital to leading and supporting the core project team.

What do you do at Providence Health Care?

I have a unique role. I am based at Providence Health Care in Vancouver, yet I have been permanently seconded to the Ministry of Health to lead British Columbia’s strategy for the measurement of patient-centred care. My job is to ensure that the people who use BC’s healthcare services have a voice in assessing the quality of the care and services they receive. We ask patients, and in the case of this project we asked frail seniors living in residential care (as well as each resident’s most frequent visitor) to provide feedback about their experiences of care, to rate their overall satisfaction with those experiences, and to provide self-reports about their health-related quality of life. My job is to work with patients, family members, clinicians, leaders, policy makers, community stakeholder groups, academics, researchers, and a host of others to determine the best way for people who use our provincial healthcare services to have a voice in assessing and telling us how to improve BC’s healthcare services. That includes selecting scientifically rigorous survey instruments as the vehicle for patients to provide their feedback, deciding on the best way to field each survey (mail, interview, phone, email), to decide what languages are needed, and whether we need to develop and test additional questions that address issues important to our patients in BC. Our province-wide, coordinated surveys are very large scale projects. I’m proud to work in a province that values the voice of the people we serve and that has been committed to making the investments necessary to conduct sector surveys continuously since 2003. BC is a leader in the area of patient-centred measurement. As the Executive Director of the Office of Patient-Centred Measurement for the Ministry of Health, I wake up every morning feeling lucky that Providence and the Ministry of Health have given me the responsibility to lead this work.

What do you like to do when you’re not helping manage this massive project?

When I’m not working, I am most likely to be outdoors hiking. I bought my first pair of hiking boots when I joined Mount Saint Joseph Hospital’s Hiking Club 27 years ago…and I still have those leather boots! What I love about hiking is being physically active while surrounded by nature in the company of interesting people. My love of hiking must have been infectious, as my children (now 25 and 22) also love hiking and all kinds of outdoor activities.  They still climb some of the same trails with me today that they enjoyed as youngsters (the Lions, Lost Lake and Bert’s Bluff on Gambier Island, Garabaldi and Black Tusk) and they have joined me on hiking trips abroad where we have climbed Mt. Sinai in the Egyptian desert, Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala, among others.

What has been the biggest challenge in managing this project for you?

There are always challenges with large, complex projects such as this, and while there were many (many, many) challenges, there wasn’t one challenge that was bigger than the rest.  When we take on survey projects we do our best to assess the risks and make decisions in advance of starting a project about those we will mitigate (try to reduce), those we will accept, and those we want to avoid at all costs.  That is an important part of managing a project.  Lillian Parsons, the Project Manager, and the RELs did a phenomenal job of managing the challenges that arose throughout the life cycle of this project.  For example, although we had anticipated and developed a contingency plan for influenza season, we did need to adjust that plan when it became clear that the number and severity of outbreaks were higher than in past years.  The disappointment of volunteers who could not have a flu shot and, therefore, couldn’t interview until the end of the flu season, was a necessary response to this challenge, however, it still broke my heart that we had volunteers committed to this project whose enthusiasm for the project needed to be put on hold.

What impressed you the most?

The quality, professionalism and commitment to this project by everyone involved was not only impressive, it was extraordinary.  Volunteers, community stakeholders, care home operators, care teams, our own staff, and the OSA’s team…everyone pulled together at every stage of this project and it was that team effort that made the OSA’s survey a success. Every single person I approached for help or advice willingly stepped in and stepped up to the challenges.  The clarity of Isobel Mackenzie’s vision…that every resident living in long term care and their MFV would be given an opportunity to provide feedback to help ensure that the quality of residential care in BC is something we can all be proud of… resonated with everyone. Many people said that a project of this scale, targeting a population of frail seniors and using a volunteer model, couldn’t be done.

What has impressed me the most is that the collective contributions of everyone who worked on the OSA’s survey proved those who said this project “couldn’t be done”… WRONG!  Special thanks to you, our phenomenal volunteers, for proving that this important project COULD BE DONE!  YOU ROCK!
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