Arsalan Afzal

Project Manager
Process Improvement and Project Management team

Most of the projects I work on are focused on improving the experience for patients and staff. Our goal is to improve the health care system as a whole by looking at how we deliver services, as well as ways to make the services better.

Bringing our ideas directly to the patients gives us great insight. Whenever possible, we like to get their feedback on what we’re doing. It’s really an eye-opener to understand their experience and to see how they react to some of the new services we’ve rolled out.

I was part of a program focused on creating services for stroke survivors. We wanted to improve their experience when they leave the hospital and return home to resume their daily lives. When we shared our ideas with a stroke survivor group, they helped us see things we hadn’t considered before.

The patient perspective is so important for our work. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to do some frontline work. An 87-year-old lady called in as a new PSW showed up at her house. She refused the care because she was not comfortable being bathed by someone she didn’t know. She really wanted to be connected with the PSW who was providing the services before.

It turned out that when the service provider changed for this patient, she wasn’t notified of the change. When she told me her story, I didn’t feel right telling her she had to just accept it. I knew the problem needed “out of the box” thinking. I was able to work with both service providers to come up with an arrangement that she was comfortable with. I felt confident that I’d have the support of my leaders to make that decision.

That experience helps me remember what’s important for the patient. We can’t lose sight of those details. Having a consistent PSW, or any provider, is really critical for the patients. They build relationships with the people who come into their homes. We want them to build those relationships because we recognize the value of relationships and the trust behind them.

I’ve been able to apply this patient focused approach to every program I work on. We emphasize consistency of care, relationships, and relational continuity of care. There’s enough research that tells us the value of relational continuity of care in improving the patient experience.

I recently finished working on a project about providing PSW care in retirement homes. Normally with PSW care, it’s a one-on-one service. In retirement homes, we have clusters of patients living in one location. We could have up to 30 PSWs going to one building providing care to 30 different patients. It’s an inefficient use of our resources and didn’t provide consistent care.  

We looked at how it works in hospitals and LTC homes and saw an opportunity to try something different with one team providing care to a cluster of patients. We organized our PSW team to have shift care in the pilot retirement homes. Instead of 20 PSWs, we could use 2 or 3 working during a morning shift. It worked out better for everyone – the patients had consistent care, the PSWs could cut their travel out and it was a huge cost savings and will help us use our resources efficiently. I’m really excited about that model, and I can’t wait to see it expand to all the retirement homes.

I love knowing that the work I’m doing will make things better for our patients and our staff. It feels good to know you’re doing something that’s good for the system.





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