Family engagement happens when families have a primary and meaningful role in decision-making processes regarding the care their child is receiving. It is a collaborative process used to build genuine and effective partnerships over time. Meaningful family engagement is about improving health and well-being for all children and families and it happens at system, community and individual levels.
Families want to be sure that their child’s needs are met. Having both family members and professionals work together as equal partners improves care for children with special health care needs. Family engagement is being an active and valued partner. Family perspective is valuable!
The Medical Home Initiative works closely with the family-led organizations of Family Voices, Parent-to-Parent and other partners to build the capacity of family members to be partners in their child’s care and with health care professionals. There are many approaches to family engagement. In a health care or community setting, family members may be participating in:
- Health care surveys or suggestion boxes
- Focus groups or interviews
- Development of their child’s care plan
- Advisory boards or councils
- Quality improvement initiative work groups
Why is family engagement important? Family-centered care and family engagement improve outcomes for patients and families, increases family and clinician satisfaction, decreases health care costs and improves effective use of health care resources.
“My son’s doctor, nurse and I are a team. They listen carefully to me when I talk about him, and I try to follow their suggestions. We have different roles, but we respect each other. My son’s medical care is better because of this partnership.” – Wisconsin Parent
“Partnering with families has been the best part! It feels like the ‘quality improvement’ version of shared decision making. I cannot imagine going back to the way we functioned before with our work siloed from those who are most affected by it!” – Wisconsin Pediatric Provider