Patient and Family Advisor Program

At North York General Hospital, we pride ourselves on putting patients first in everything we do. One way our hospital accomplishes this is through Patient- and Family-Centred Care (PFCC) — an approach to the planning, delivery and evaluation of health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among patients, families and health care providers.

Since 2012, our Patient and Family Advisor (PFA) program has played a key role in facilitating the practice of collaborative partnerships among our patients, family members, and staff and ensures that the patient perspective is reflected in the way our hospital delivers quality care. 

Who are Patient and Family Advisors?

As volunteers, Patient and Family Advisors are former patients and/or family members of patients within the past two years who provide important perspectives that have a direct impact across a wide range of hospital initiatives, programs, projects, services, and policies. Their work in partnership with the hospital supports the creation of a truly patient- and family-centred care environment and experience for everyone. 

What do Patient and Family Advisors do?

Our advisors are involved in a wide range of short to long-term hospital committees, projects, and initiatives from those at the organizational level to unit specific. They are placed in opportunities that best match their interests, experiences, and availabilities. Examples of work include:

  • Sharing your patient story at a meeting and/or event (e.g. New Employee Orientation) to build empathy and understanding about the patient experience. 
  • Advocating for the patient perspective on hospital committees (e.g. Quality of Care).
  • Reviewing patient materials for different hospital programs (e.g. seniors' care and palliative care).
  • Collaborating on quality improvement initiatives to standardize and improve the patient experience (e.g. preparation for an ultrasound).
  • Participating on the Research Ethics Board and working with researchers to ensure consent forms for studies are written in a patient-centred manner.
  • Helping to improve the flow and design of hospital areas (e.g. improving the emergency department through participating in a multiday simulation event).
  • Supporting the Accreditation process of the hospital. 
  • Offering the patient perspective in capital redesign and renovation projects.
  • Participating in the hiring of managers, directors, physician chiefs, and research chairs.

Becoming a Patient and Family Advisor

We believe it is very important for prospective Patient and Family Advisors to clearly understand the program criteria to ensure a mutual match for both the advisor and North York General Hospital. Kindly review the program requirements and ensure you can meet the program's expectations prior to beginning the application process.

What are the program requirements?

NYGH experience — All Patient and Family Advisors are required to have had an experience with NYGH within the past two years, either as a patient or as a primary caregiver/family member to a patient.

Age  You must be 16 years of age or older.

Time commitment — All volunteers must commit to volunteering for a minimum of one year with a typical commitment of two years. We require that every Patient and Family Advisor be continuously involved with at least one committee or ongoing project during their term. Time commitment each month will depend on the nature of your project. Please reflect on your availability and ensure this is a commitment you can make!

Tuberculosis (TB) testing and communicable disease surveillance program — NYGH is in compliance with the Public Hospitals Act (O. Reg. 965) which requires that hospital bylaws must establish and provide for the operation of a health surveillance program, including a TB/communicable disease surveillance program, for all persons carrying on activities in the hospital. Prior to placement, you must provide documentation from your treating physician to the Volunteer Services Department to ensure your immunization status meets the requirements of the TB/communicable disease program at NYGH. TB/communicable disease screening begins after a prospective volunteer has been accepted as a Patient and Family Advisor.

Influenza vaccination  NYGH is committed to providing the best care for our patients, our health care workers and our volunteers. NYGH's Influenza Vaccination Policy and Outbreak Management Policy requires all staff, physicians and volunteers who work in patient areas to vaccinate or mask. Learn more

Orientation — Once accepted to the Patient and Family Advisor program, you will be required to attend an orientation day where we will review hospital policies, procedures, communication skills and how to be successful in your new role. You will be required to complete and submit all required documentation prior to starting your role. 

Vulnerable sector screening — Depending on your placement area and whether you are working with vulnerable populations (e.g. seniors, children), you may be asked to complete a vulnerable sector screening by your staff liaison in the program area.

Privacy and confidentiality — You are expected to comply with our hospital's policies regarding privacy and confidentiality in respect to the use and distribution of patient information.

Tracking volunteer hours — You will be responsible for tracking your volunteer hours as a PFA using the Volunteer Services check-in/out kiosk in the volunteer lounge.

Renewal process — After the completion of your two-year term as a Patient and Family Advisor, you are provided the opportunity to undergo a renewal process to extend your term for another two years. 

What qualities are asked of our Patient and Family Advisors?

  • Interested in working with staff and other patients and families.
  • Committed to improving the experience of all patients and families.
  • Model the four pillars of Patient- and Family-Centred Care in their work: Respect and Dignity, Information Sharing, Participation, and Collaboration.
  • Open to listening to different opinions and ideas.
  • Conscious of the difference between advisory and advocacy roles. 
  • Exercise excellence, respect, integrity, and compassion in their role. 
  • Professional, reliable and punctual. 
  • Willing to learn new skills.
  • Respect privacy and confidentiality

What is the process for applying to be a Patient and Family Advisor? 

If you meet the program requirements and are interested in making a difference in the quality of health care, here are the general steps to becoming a Patient and Family Advisor at NYGH:

  1. Register for the next information session: Registration for the June 18, 2018, information session is now closed. Information on future information sessions will be included when available. 
  2. After attending the information session, prospective volunteers are provided with an NYGH Patient and Family Advisor Volunteer Application Package. Review, complete and submit your NYGH Volunteer Application Package. 
  3. The Patient- and Family-Centred Care office will contact you to schedule an interview. 
  4. Upon acceptance, register with Volunteer Services and as a Patient and Family Advisor. 
  5. Complete and submit all necessary documentation. 
  6. Undergo mandatory volunteer services training.
  7. Participate in mandatory Patient and Family Advisor orientation.
  8. Engage in specific project/committee-specific training.

If you have questions about the program, please contact the Patient- and Family-Centred Care consultant at or 416-756-6467.