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Amr Elimam is the primary caregiver for his sister Dina. Dina has been a client of VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) since 2013.
“About 4 years ago, I had a complaint about Dina’s care. I called into VHA’s office and asked to speak to the CEO. The line was transferred right to the CEO and I was really impressed,” Amr recalls. During their conversation, Amr was encouraged to participate in a call with VHA’s Client and Carer Advisory Council, a group formed in 2013 to involve clients in developing programs and making improvements at VHA. “I participated in one conference call and there were a bunch of caregivers on that call,” added Amr. “I was feeling really alone and isolated at the time. I felt like I was the only one dealing with these caregiving issues and all of a sudden when I heard these people talking, it was like ‘there are people like me and there are even words to describe how I’m feeling and what I’m going through!’ So that made me feel like maybe there was something in this for me.”
Amr joined VHA’s Client and Carer Advisory Council shortly after that initial call and soon after became the group’s Co-chair, a role he has held ever since. “I’ve found as time went by that I could actually influence what’s going on. So rather than sit at home and be upset about something or wish that something was different, I can actually help make changes. That to me is much more powerful and much more mentally engaging than just being on the receiving end.”
“My colleagues on the Advisory Council bring excellent perspectives to the table and work extremely well together for the benefit of all the clients and caregivers. I think the Advisory Council is a great initiative by VHA,” Amr added.
Amr has found through this role that he is better able to understand the issues that VHA is facing and then can position the problems he and his sister have as a caregiver and client against those issues and gain some understanding.
“The health care space, I’ve come to know, is incredibly complex and complicated. There are lots of initiatives going on and there are many organizations that work together. There are really big challenges now, especially COVID and limited staff resources.”
Amr sees the value and importance of VHA’s involvement in bigger projects to integrate care with other organizations and to develop innovations to make care better over time. But as a caregiver for his sister, the most urgent issues for him are about the care people are receiving right now. “For me it is all about the person at home on a Sunday morning waiting for someone to take them out of bed. The things that are most of interest to me are the innovations that can be of immediate benefit – things like virtual care and new approaches to recruiting staff.”
Amr has recently become a member of the Quality Improvement and Risk Management committee of VHA’s Board, an exciting first for VHA to have a client partner formally joining one of our Board committees. This committee deals with the quality of care for clients, something that Amr is clearly passionate about. His perspective as a caregiver will be beneficial to this group.
“Through the time I’ve spent engaging in the Client and Carer Advisory, I’ve come to respect what VHA is about. There is a true commitment to people like my sister. There is a keen interest to deal with things and get things right for the client. That made me interested in trying to influence the bigger decisions,” Amr shared. “My hope is that if I’m sitting in a meeting, that I can bring the perspective of that person at home waiting for a visit, consider how this will impact them and bring meaningful ideas forward. If I can make life better for one person, it is all worth it.”
Amr shared these comments during a recent discussion with VHA’s CEO Dr. Kathryn Nichol. Click here to view Amr and Kathryn’s conversation or press play below.
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