Vancouver Coastal Health's (VCH) Community Engagement Advisory Network or CEAN (pronounced KEEN) is a network of volunteer patient advisors who provide guidance – often behind the scenes – on programs, policies and services for patients, clients and their families. As it's National Volunteer Week, we're highlighting just a few of the CEAN members who generously share their time, spirit and experience making health care better for all.
John Con's journey with the CEAN began soon after he retired in 2014. During his career as a manger at VCH, John came across patient
advisors who actively participated in projects by providing their consumer and client perspective on issues and policies. Their contributions were invaluable, and John knew that he would want to keep giving back to VCH after he retired.
John's career linked him to home health, long term care as well as palliative care and hospice. His experiences well prepared him for his volunteer work as a CEAN member. John sits on seven different committees, most of which focus on long term care quality improvement, end of life and palliative care programs, as well as brining awareness to Canadian Chinese communities about early approaches to palliative care. John also enjoys sharing his love of music with VCH staff. In April, he was invited to participate at the physician wellness lunch to play the guitar and lead a sing-along during the luncheon with the music therapist to help alleviate the daily stresses of physician's work lives.
“These volunteer committees keep me stay engaged in health care. I feel I am valued as a member on every committee and the fact that I am volunteering is rewarding in itself," says John. “I would encourage anyone who has interest in health care to join CEAN. There are many, many opportunities to participate."
Zarina Sajoo has first-hand experience caring for someone who accesses Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) services at VCH. In the early stages of their health care journey, CEAN became a path of discovery and an opportunity to give back.
“I didn't know how to navigate the system or who to ask for help," says Zarina. “But when I reached out to CEAN, the coordinator connected me with resources and help set us on a path forward."
Since then, Zarina has volunteered as a member of CEAN to advocate for needed mental health resources and care beds as a member of a mental health committee at Vancouver General Hospital.
Her volunteer contributions grew beyond mental health when she advised the renewal of Vancouver General Hospital's Operating Room, drawing from her career experience as an operating room nurse. She also joined and advised the Business Initiatives and Support Services (BISS) advisory committee, where four health authorities and their partners work to improve the quality of support services for care providers and patients. She advised of ways to improve the quality of food and linen services in health care facilities, and to reduce waste. “We were the pioneers to stop plastic straws and bags being used in health care facilities," Zarina adds.
“It gives me great pleasure knowing that I'm helping someone," says Zarina, reflecting on her volunteering. “I'm so glad to have had so many ways of contributing to health care these past few years, and I'm looking forward to doing more!"
Pat Parker started her journey as a VCH volunteer in 2009 when she joined the MHSU Family Advisory Committee (FAC) and acted as
Chair from 2011 to 2015. From her involvement with the FAC, Pat was encouraged to become a CEAN member and has been an invaluable member since 2017.
As a family member of a client who accesses MHSU services, Pat knew she wanted to become involved in a capacity where her voice and perspectives would help change the way family members were incorporated into their loved ones' care. The FAC's mission was to advocate for family-centred care, and Pat's contribution and passion to this work has moved this initiative forward. Further, Pat has provided input in the development of the family involvement policy for MHSU services, advocated for the formation of the Family Support and Involvement Team and developed the Experience of Care surveys for tertiary care.
Pat is a retired physical educator with a special interest in dance and the neuroscience of exercise, brain development and learning. Pat's experience in education and in staff development has been valuable in her work as an advisory member.
Learn more about CEAN and join the network of patient advisors.