Rosalie Glynn remembers feeling a growing sense of frustration that her hands didn’t work.
The Counties Manukau resident and CM Health consumer was trying to thread large wooden beads through shoelaces. It shouldn’t have been hard, except that she was wearing thick gloves that made the task almost impossible.
The exercise was part of a workshop called “Empathy Zone” in which clinicians and patient advocates experienced the sensations of a physical disability – just one of the programmes offered during Patient Experience Week at several locations around Counties Manukau.
The gloves were designed to help people understand what living with arthritis would be like.
“I couldn’t imagine not being able to use my hands,” says Rosalie, who is also the chair of the one-year-old Patient and Whanau Centred Care Consumer Council.
“It broke my heart.”
Other activities held as part of Empathy Zone included wearing glasses that rendered the participant vision impaired, and being strapped to a tilt table in order to understand an activity undertaken with our spinal patients.
This year, Patient Experience Week kicks off Monday 7 March, with another Empathy Zone.
Other activities scheduled during the week-long event include consumer representative forums, mindfulness courses focusing on compassion and a tour of the decontamination unit.
The week will also mark the anniversary of the creation of the Patient and Whanau Centred Care Consumer Council – a group of 10 consumers, or close family members of consumers, ranging in ages from 25 to 85, comprising different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds.
Rosalie says there has been strong support for the council, with opportunities for consumers to be involved in the design and delivery of services. An example of this is the involvement of consumers in the Advance Care planning governance and working groups.
“We’ve been given the chance to broaden consumer engagement at CM Health and we’ve actively worked in that space. We’re very grateful for the opportunity we’ve been given,” she says.