Patient & Family Day

By Humber River Health

As we approach Family Day weekend in Ontario, Humber River Health would like to encourage patients and their family members to help do something extremely positive for other families: join one of our hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Councils. Here is the story of one patient who did.

In December 2016, Shaniza Sakoor got a breast cancer diagnosis. Her journey with the disease lasted a year and a half. Diagnosis, consultations, surgery, breast reconstruction, healing – she went through every stage at Humber River Health, and while she is happy to have left cancer behind, she isn’t yet ready to be done with the hospital.

“Definitely, cancer is in the rearview, and I couldn’t be happier,” says Shaniza. “But now what I realize is that I really want to give something back.”

Shaniza got her chance to give back when she was approached by the cancer team at Humber about joining the Oncology Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). Her caregivers had noticed during her time at Humber that she is outgoing, approachable, committed to helping other patients, and has opinions that are clear and well thought out.

“Voices like Shaniza’s are something we badly need. All hospitals do,” says Jennifer Yoon, Director of Professional Practice. “The point to a PFAC is that it allows patients and their families to give voice to their needs and priorities, and make sure that voice is heard by health professionals.”

Shaniza is now serving not only on the Oncology PFAC but also the broader Humber corporate PFAC. She’d like to see more patients and family members join these councils. It is a chance, she says, for them to share their feedback and ideas, give advice on improving the patient and family experience, provide input on how to improve policies, care and hiring practices, as well as feedback on the usability of technology, supports and services.

“Doctors and nurses know a lot,” she says. “But one thing they often don’t know is what it’s like to be a patient, or the family member of a patient. The better they understand what it is like to be us, to have our needs and priorities, to see the health system through the eyes of a patient, the better they can help us.”