Denise Hughes, one of the new Patient Experience Officers at Ballina Hospital.
Denise Hughes, one of the new Patient Experience Officers at Ballina Hospital.

Friendly faces offer support at hospitals when needed most

WHEN people enter the Emergency Department (ED) at Lismore and Ballina hospitals, they will be greeted by the newest members of the ED Team, the Patient Experience Officer (PEO).

The $8.6 million expansion of the NSW Government's award-winning Patient Experience Program will see four hospitals in Northern NSW Local Health District welcome new Patient Experience Officers to their emergency departments.

There are three staff on secondment at Ballina District Hospital on the new role, NNSWLHD Director Clinical Operations, Lynne Weir said.

"They have been in place since early May," she said.

"We'll review this in coming months as we move into the next phase of the COVID-19 response.

"New Patient Experience Officers are in place at all four sites in Northern NSW LHD, with some recruitment underway to fill positions moving forwards."

The PEO concierge is a non-clinical role, and making everyone feel welcome and listened to is a key component of improving the experience for people coming to hospital.

As part of the program patients receive access to free Wi-Fi, mobile phone charging stations, additional power points, water and other refreshments; information sent to their mobile device about what to expect during their stay; fact sheets on their particular condition/ treatment options; and ongoing care instructions after discharge, available in multiple languages.

PEO at Lismore, Tracey Barker, has been at the forefront of the pilot program since it began.

"People are often at their most vulnerable when they present to hospital for help," Ms Barker said.

"The hospital can be an unfamiliar place and it may be difficult to know where to go and who to get help from, but Patient Experience Officers are a friendly face, providing guidance and reassurance to our patients right from the moment they come in the door."

Since the four NSW pilot sites implemented the program, there have been increases in compliments to staff, with patient and carer feedback showing a 30 per cent improvement in overall emergency department satisfaction.

 

WELCOMING: Lismore Base Hospital patient experience officers, from left, Tracey Barker, Matt Wenban and Kyleen Collins.
WELCOMING: Lismore Base Hospital patient experience officers, from left, Tracey Barker, Matt Wenban and Kyleen Collins.

Lismore ED Nursing Unit Manager, Ricky Brown, said that the role significantly reduces the workload of non-clinical related activity, allowing clinicians to focus on their speciality.

"The ED staff see great value in the role, both to staff as well as patients and carers," Mr Brown said.


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