Improving Your Cancer Care Experience

The Patient and Family Advisory Board was established in 2012 to ensure the delivery of exemplary care that is centered around each patient and family of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Patients, family members, health care providers and members of the community meet regularly to discuss their experiences of what it’s like to be treated for cancer.

image of get-to-know-me poster
The get-to-know-me poster is being tested with patients on 8A.

PFAB member: Laura Galunas, nurse manager, 8A acute care oncology unit at University Hospital.

Why she joined: "It helps me as a health care professional to remember who we're taking care of and who we're here for. All patient stories, good and bad, are important to know about. We can learn from them and make improvements."

Jumpstarting the Care Process

Galunas and the 8A nursing team spearheaded a two-year project to redesign the way nurses hand off patient care through shift exchange reports.

"Our goal was to move the process into the patient room instead of in a conference room," she says. "This allows patients to be included in their own care, to better understand the plan for the day and to validate the nurse’s assessment."

The new process also puts nurses in their patients' rooms earlier, giving them a jumpstart on the care process. Family members like it because they get to hear firsthand what is happening with their loved ones' treatment.

Getting to know our patients

Some patients are on 8A for three weeks or longer. The nurses and health care team wanted to find a way to personalize the patient's care based on who they are outside of the hospital. A "get-to-know-me" poster was developed and is currently being tested.

The idea is for patients to share information by filling in the movie-themed poster, which has space for details such as family and friends, favorite activities and things they like to do on a daily basis.

"We have over 70 nursing staff members," Galunas says. "The poster is a way for them to get to know their patients better. Patients who want to participate can complete it."

Patients can reuse the poster for subsequent hospital stays. The goal is twofold: to provide a method for the health care team to get to know patients as people and a way for patients to express themselves.

Additional Information

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Thrive Issue: 
Spring, 2014