Grand River Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisor (PFA) Network

Grand River Hospital (GRH) is committed to ensuring that our patients, families and care partners have meaningful opportunities to participate in a wide variety of planning and improvement processes throughout our organization.

Patient Engagement is a key focus of our most recent Strategic Plan and we are expanding on our existing patient engagement structures to provide more opportunities for patients and care partners to work with us across the organization.

We know that when we partner with patients and caregivers, program and services are planned in ways that better meet the needs and preferences of patients, care partners and their families.

GRH currently benefits from the expertise of Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs) participating in four Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) within our cancer, renal, mental health & addictions and regional stroke programs. These committed PFAC volunteers meet regularly with hospital staff, and provide valuable insight, feedback and recommendations on program and service development and policies, making sure that the patient perspective is at the center of our planning.

GRH is increasing its capacity to partner with patients through the introduction of a new structure - the PFA Network – which will welcome participation from community residents who have received care at this hospital over the past three years.

Why join GRH's Patient Family Advisor Network?

We connect patients, families, and caregivers who are passionate about improving our programs and services, with health care teams who want to learn from their experiences. Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs) have the opportunity to:

  • Make a difference for future patients’ health care needs and experiences.
  • Build skills through engagement opportunities, ongoing education and support from hospital staff, networking and sharing opportunities with other PFAs.

As a PFA, you decide when you’re ready to engage, the engagement opportunities you’re interested in and how much time you can dedicate.

If you seek to address a specific gap or concern that you have witnessed or experienced in the health care system, contact ourPatient Relations program.

Who can become a Patient and Family Advisor?

In order to become a Patient and Family Advisors, you must be a patient, care partner or family member of a patient who has received care at Grand River Hospital’s KW or Freeport sites within the past three years. Patient and Family Advisors applicants are required to take part in an informal interview and to submit references. If selected, PFAs are required to complete an online orientation and agree to standard privacy and confidentiality rules.

Qualities & skills of a PFA

As a Patient and Family Advisor, you should:

  • Have a passion for enhancing the health care experience for patients and families
  • Be able to share insights and information about your experiences to help evolve programs, services and hospital priorities
  • Be a good listener
  • Respect other people’s opinions and perspectives
  • Be able to share your thoughts and opinions in a group setting
  • Be open to seeing beyond your own personal experiences to contribute constructively
  • Promote the mission of GRH through positive interactions with staff, physicians, volunteers, and the community
  • Be open to working with others whose backgrounds, experiences and styles may be different than your own
  • Be able to commit time to prepare and participate in meetings (either in person or via phone/teleconference), or provide feedback in other ways (such as over phone or email)
  • Keep information confidential, as appropriate

How are Patient and Family Advisors involved at GRH?

GRH is committed to engaging patients, families and care partners throughout all areas of the hospital. Patient and Family Advisors bring the patient and family perspective on a variety of topics and issues.

1. Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs)

GRH has three PFACs within the Cancer, Renal and Mental Health and Addiction programs as well as the Regional Stroke Program. Some PFAs participate on these PFACs along with hospital team members, and provide patient, care partner and family perspectives and advice. These committees meet on a regular basis to:

  • Identify patient and family needs and concerns
  • Provide feedback on current systems and processes in the hospital and specific areas of care
  • Generate new ideas to improve the standard of care
  • Help enhance person-centered care across a hospital program

2. Councils, Committees and Working Groups

Some PFAs contribute their perspective to longer-term initiatives through membership on various councils, committees and working groups. PFAs participate as equal members alongside team members. PFAs provide their advice and perspectives on the work that the group is undertaking and help co-design solutions that meet the needs of patients, care partners and families.

Examples of committee work may include:

  • Program-specific patient Quality Councils
  • Steering committees and working groups
  • Hiring committees
  • Board committees (i.e. Integrated Planning Committee etc.)

PFAs are matched to these opportunities based on their interests, skills and availability, as well as the needs of the specific programs.

3. Short-term, patient engagement opportunities

PFAs are frequently invited to participate in short-term, time-limited activities where clinical and non-clinical programs request the input, feedback and perspective of PFAs to inform discussions, generate options, set priorities and make decisions. PFAs may be invited to:

  • Complete online surveys.
  • Participate in focus groups.
  • Provide input and feedback on specific issues by phone or email.
  • Share personal stories at meetings or events in order to improve patient-centered care.

On March 29,2022, we held a webinar to share information about the role of Patient and Family Advisors at GRH, how PFAs are currently working with team members to improve programs and services, and opportunities to get involved with this work.

Webinar presenters included:

-Andrea Guth, Director, Quality, Risk and Patient Experience, Grand River Hospital

-Kim Hodgson, Patient Engagement and Experience Consultant, Grand River Hospital

-Patient and family advisors from our cancer, mental health and addictions and regional stroke programs

Watch the recording below.

Patient and Family Advisor (PFA) Network Webinar

Application Form

Application process

If you are interested in volunteering as a PFA, please complete the short online application form below.If you would like to review the form with a GRH team member and provide the information through a conversation, please call (519) 504-4379.

Once we receive your application, we will review your information and determine if your experience, interests and skills are a good fit with the hospital’s patient engagement objectives for 2022.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in an informal 20-minute phone call or online conversation so we can talk about your interest in this program, answer any questions you may have, and cover topics such as confidentiality and privacy, as well as the orientation process.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering as a PFA!

If you need assistance completing the online sign-up form, please email us at or by phone at (519) 504-4379.

Volunteering with the Grand River Hospital Foundation

If you are looking for volunteering opportunities outside of becoming a PFA, please visit the Grand River Hospital Foundation's website here for more information.