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What matters most to you for your health?

11/06/2020
VGH Registered Nurse Janine Mintz, holds up two "What matters to me" sheets she filled out with her patients.

VGH Registered Nurse Janine Mintz, holds up two "What matters to me" sheets she filled out with her patients. Taped above patients' beds, they provide reminders like, "What matters to me is a good night's sleep..." to guide conversations and patient care.

"How do we make sure we care for our patients as people and not a number or a diagnosis?" asks Dara Lewis, iPACE Clinical Nurse Educator and Lead. One way is to learn more about who the person is, what matters most to them in their lives and for their health.

Tuesday, June 9 was "What Matters to You?" Day, an international movement to support better patient care by encouraging meaningful conversations between patients, caregivers, families, and their health-care providers.

Across VCH, clinicians marked the day by taking the opportunity to have conversations with patients about what's important to them, any concerns they have, and how best to support their care. 

This approach recognizes that patients are the true experts on their own needs and experiences.

David's father filled out a What Matters Most to Me form before he received care at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) after a fall.

"My family found this form to be extremely helpful as it was filled out by my father, in his writing and was very clear in his answers. There is one question on the form, 'If my health were to worsen, this is what I would be willing to go through for the possibility of more time'. My father answered this question 'very little — no heroics,'" says David. "When we had to make the decision to not intervene and just allow comfort care, it really helped us make that decision and I found that having a document that he wrote made it much easier for me to help honour his wishes."

What Matters Most to Me encourages conversations about a patient's health conditions and concerns, but also what quality of life looks like for them.

"I've had a few conversations [before], but they left me feeling worse," says a 73-year-old woman with metastatic ovarian cancer. "This was different. It was very helpful. I wish I'd had the talk earlier. I'd never been asked those questions before."

Quality of life can look differently for each patient.

 "For one person, what matters to them is playing golf and having that ability," says Dara. "For another person, what matters most is being able to recognize their family members."

"I've found that providing patients and families with the What Matters Most to Me form really helps them find their voice and collaborate with the team in aligning care to their priorities and values," says Amanda Stewart, Registered Nurse, iPACE Pilot Project. "I've been told by families that it helped them make decisions, gave them peace knowing those decisions respected what their loved one would have wanted, and gave them something to hold on to and remember them by."

What matters most to you?

Patients can download and fill out the What Matters Most to Me form before receiving health-care services at Vancouver Coastal Health sites.

Additional resources

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