Infrastructure & Governance | Global Perspective

Storytelling at board meetings: A case study of co-developing recommendations

In healthcare, stories shared by patients often provide details and insights into experiences of illness and care. Stories are a way to educate healthcare providers and others to improve care and systems to become more patient and family centred and to better meet patients’ needs and priorities. Telling stories may bring benefits to both storytellers and audience members but also presents risks of harm. A reflective storytelling practice aims to honor stories and storytellers by ensuring there is time to prepare, reflect, learn, ask questions, and engage in dialogue with the storyteller to explore what went well and where there are learning and improvement opportunities.

Healthcare Excellence Canada (HEC) is a pan-Canadian health organization focused on improving the quality and safety of care in Canada. HEC commits to engage patients, caregivers, and communities and aims to develop practices and structures to enable engagement activities. At the request of the HEC Board, the Patient Engagement and Partnerships team co-developed recommendations on the process for how best to meaningfully share stories at Board meetings, including stories from those leading, providing, and receiving care. This Case Study outlines the process HEC used to co-develop storytelling recommendations, focusing on a trauma-informed approach to create safe spaces for preparing, learning from and reflecting on stories, to clearly articulate their purpose, and to ensure the locus of control for storytelling rests with the storytellers. This Case Study shares these recommendations and invites other organizations to use these recommendations and/or adapt them within their own context.