A retrospective: 10 years after Greg’s death, the need for teamwork in health care remains

May 19 was the tenth anniversary of Greg’s death. A lot has happened—we have learned a lot, yet it’s still shocking to think it has been 10 years. Since Greg’s untimely death highlighted life-altering gaps in accessing information within Alberta’s healthcare, much work still needs to be done. But we can look back and see there have been a few milestones.

The 2013 HQCA investigation and report, which demonstrated the gaps and opportunities for improvement in patient-focused care, laid the foundation for our healing and the future of our advocacy work. Our involvement in the 2015 launch of IMAGINE (now Imagine Citizens Network), and the subsequent early morning meetings collaborating next steps with the original group, were impactful. The opportunity to share ideas and be part of something that could change how Albertans interact with their healthcare system for the better kept us motivated and inspired.

The film Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story amplified the opportunity to make a real impact and opened the door to connect with others. Since the film’s release, we have held more than 475 screenings, creating opportunities to engage with and talk to audiences about their ideas. At each screening, our belief becomes more resolute: we need a strong foundation of teamwork in healthcare.  

There have been times when advocating for teamwork seems a bit obvious, and people generally agree with the idea. But the true partnership we are advocating for—that’s effective—would be a significant change in mindset. And that requires a substantial change in the system.

So, how does ‘teamwork’ look? When we say teamwork, we mean:*

  • We know who is on the team, our team. Teams are built to meet the patient’s unique needs and will evolve to address those changing needs. Patients and their family/caregivers/loved ones—whomever they choose—are recognized, welcomed, and respected by team members. We always know who the current leader is.
  • The team has a shared understanding of the situation, the current plan, and potential anticipated and planned challenges.
  • The team can communicate effectively. Information is available to every team member so they can make safe decisions. Handoffs and team transitions are recognized as a risk and are organized effectively.
  • The team supports each other, recognizes that they rely on each other, and makes decisions together. Each team member understands that they need to speak up when necessary and are empowered to do so.

There are other ways people outline what teamwork is to them. We have a simple one-pager to summarize what we see as critical for patient-driven health and care. 

Greg’s Wings: next steps

We plan to dive a bit deeper into all things related to this, and the next focus for Greg’s Wings Projects will be to help create the conditions for effective teamwork in the healthcare sector. We have an online community, Co-Pilot Collective, where we will continue sharing our thoughts, interesting resources, and initiatives. We’d love for you to join us.

Teamwork is patient-centred healthcare

We don’t believe a single model will work for everyone—any shift towards teamwork can be impactful, valuable and save lives. If there’s anything to take from this article, it is to acknowledge we need a foundation of teamwork in Alberta’s healthcare system for everybody, regardless of who they are.

Teri Price
Greg’s Wings Projects

Teri is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Greg’s Wings Projects and long-time volunteer and collaborator with Imagine Citizens Network. 

*Sources: Team Scheme, adapted from TeamSTEPPS & CIHC National Interprofessional Competency Framework.

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Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash