After the heartbreak of her mother’s journey with prolonged delirium, Wendy Alston decided to dedicate herself to making health care better for everyone. With empathy, solidarity and tireless work, she has helped transform care for delirium patients and changed the culture of patient engagement at Eagle Ridge Hospital (ERH).

Wendy’s volunteer trajectory was motivated by the desire to advocate for people suffering with delirium so that other patients and families wouldn’t experience the pain her family went through. By openly sharing her mother’s experience, she put a face to the deeply personal and distressing road that delirium can be, relating to health care providers on a human level and encouraging the team at ERH to innovate the way delirium was treated at the hospital.

Wendy Alston and her mother

Through her openness and dedication, Wendy has enabled health care professionals to develop a greater understanding of the patient and family experience and improve their approaches. Responding with constructive feedback and praising everyone’s hard work, she listens to the dilemmas of point-of-care staff and motivates the team at ERH to create innovative solutions. Her sensible input has enabled multiple improvements around the hospital, such as increasing access to sinks for hand hygiene for patients and their families, making emergency rooms more welcoming and redesigning the rounding process to improve communication amongst care teams.

More than anything, Wendy has enabled the team at ERH to move forward with a new shared understanding of patient engagement and quality of life, something that will positively impact patient care at the hospital for generations to come. She has helped the committee focus on patient safety by implementing a standardized approach to caring for patients with delirium and minimizing adverse outcomes that could unintentionally result from the delivery of care.

With her ability to speak eloquently and confidently, Wendy has helped pave the way for a culture change – incorporating the patient voice into committees that previously did not include patient representatives, such as the patient representative role for the emergency room expansion at ERH. Whether in meetings with point-of-care staff or administrators, she has been able to gently and firmly bring patient and family needs to the forefront. That includes meetings for ERH’s delirium project as well as at medical conferences and events, such as a hospital-wide educational blitz on World Delirium Day 2019, the 2018 Specialist Services Committee Quality Improvement Summit and the Physician Quality Improvement graduation in June 2018.