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CHEO’s Family Forum celebrates 25 years of improving health care

OTTAWA (ONTARIO), September 21, 2016 – CHEO’s family advisory council, Family Forum, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, making it the longest running family advisory council in Canada — and possibly in the world. Since its founding in 1991, Family Forum has had over 80 members, many of whom will gather at CHEO on September 23 for an evening of reminiscing and honouring their achievements.

The anniversary will be shared with CHEO’s Youth Forum, an advisory council of young patients, which will be turning “sweet 16”.

“CHEO is grateful for the many parents and youth who’ve given countless hours to the Family Forum and Youth Forum,” says Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO. “They have helped clinicians and staff to always see their work through a patient and family lens. Their guidance helps us continually improve care for children and youth.”

Family Forum has played a key role in helping CHEO to tailor its programs and practices to create an exceptional patient experience and better support families whose children are hospitalized or chronically ill. In 2014, CHEO’s Family Forum was recognized by The Change Foundation as a model of best practice in patient engagement.

“We quickly moved to become an integral part of decision-making at CHEO,” recalls Lise Turpin, former chair of Family Forum from 1991 to 2002. “The fact that they listened to us was incredible and it really made a difference. CHEO’s level of commitment was way ahead of other hospitals.”

The Family Forum was instrumental in creating special programs at CHEO for children who are medically fragile and whose care requires many specialists and healthcare disciplines. As a result of leadership by its family advisors, CHEO also hired a full-time Patient/Family Representative who liaises with families to address needs and concerns about their hospital care.

Another innovation that resulted from Family Forum’s advice is the Parental Presence at Induction Program, which allows a parent to stay with and comfort a child going into surgery until he/she falls asleep with anesthesia. As well, members of Family Forum have served on project committees and hiring panels, ensuring a family perspective is embedded in everything CHEO does.

Youth Forum also deserves praise for its many contributions to CHEO over the past 16 years, such as creating youth-friendly grants and a youth-friendly award, sponsoring teen nights on inpatient units, providing feedback on programs, making an orientation video for new staff, and creating a list of top 10 ways to interact with youth. Their input allows staff and clinicians to better help teens feel at ease during their stay in the hospital.

The youth-friendly award allows youth to nominate and recognize staff, physicians and volunteers for the respect and support they have shown to CHEO’s youth.

For more information about the September 23 reunion of CHEO’s Family Forum and Youth Forum members, please contact Cheryl at 613-737-7600 x 3932 or


For media inquiries, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager and Strategist, CHEO
Cell 613-769-5553

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