Engagement Strategies

Core Concepts of Patient and Family Centered Care

Engagement in direct care is aligned with the core concepts of patient- and family-centred care (Institute for Patient and Family Centred Care, 2012). The core concepts include:

  • Dignity and Respect. Health care practitioners listen to and honor patient and family perspectives and choices. Patient and family knowledge, values, beliefs and cultural backgrounds are incorporated into the planning and delivery of care.
  • Information Sharing. Health care practitioners communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that are affirming and useful. Patients and families receive timely, complete and accurate information in order to effectively participate in care and decision-making.
  • Participation. Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose.
  • Collaboration. Patients, families, health care practitioners, and health care leaders collaborate in policy and program development, implementation and evaluation; in research; in facility design; and in professional education, as well as in the delivery of care.

These concepts should be considered when working with patients and families in direct care practices.

At St. Joseph’s, we have many examples of ways that we engage patients and families in care planning or care delivery. Regardless of the resources, tools and practices across the organization, there are a few key strategies that should be considered when engaging patients and family caregivers.

Engagement Strategies

What How

Focus on building a relationship with the patient/family caregiver

Open communication

  • Ask how they are doing
  • Get to know the patient and caregiver, build a rapport
  • Provide contact information for them to get in touch with you if they have questions

Take a holistic approach to care

Know and understand the patient’s life – as them about their:

  • living situation
  • family involvement
  • patient/family goals
  • wishes and preferences

Understand skills and knowledge of the patient/family caregiver

  • Ask them what they want to know about to help them manage their disease or condition and how they want that information to be shared ie. video, handout, conversation
  • Inquire about their need for learning hands-on skills such as transferring and wound care

Involve family if patient/resident wishes; understand how the family caregiver wishes to be engaged

  • Ask the patient/resident who they want involved in their care
  • Ensure the individuals the patient/resident identifies is willing and able to be involved in care, and what their preference is for their level of engagement

Understand the level the patient wishes to be involved in decision-making (this may change throughout the care journey as they gain skills and learn more information)

Have a conversation with the patient/resident about the spectrum of engagement.

Provide as much information as possible, in the format they desire


  • what to expect in their journey
  • services to access
  • educational materials
  • details of care and treatment options
Transfer information across health system to ensure care continuity as the patient/family caregiver move through the system Ensure discharge notes and clinic notes are sent to their primary care team, community supports etc.
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