A Shared Health Service
A Note to the Public about Covid-19
from the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety
The pandemic has changed the way that people think about their health and how they access health services. For some, their healthcare journey may look quite different now than it did before the pandemic. Now, more than ever, advocating for yourself and your loved ones is a top priority.
The Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety believes that Manitobans are in the best position to advocate for themselves and their loved ones.
This means being involved.
On this page are suggestions for how to carry out these important actions that will contribute to your safety as a patient..
If you are not ill or having health challenges, you may not think of yourself as a “patient.” However, at the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety, we use this term to mean people who have, or will in the future, access a healthcare provider in any setting. Examples are:
• the lab to get blood taken
• a clinic where you have an appointment with your nurse, physician, or anyone providing health services
• a pharmacy to get prescriptions or over the counter medication
• an X-ray department at a community location
• the emergency department
This means that everyone can benefit from you planning ahead and being involved when you are in any setting that provides health services.
Be sure to follow the advice of our public health officials about how to prepare and prevent COVID-19.
Medication Card – Know and Show
Patients, families and advocates are vital partners in providing accurate and detailed information about the medications taken and how they are being taken. Remember three things about your medications:
• Keep an up-to-date medication card.
• Carry the medication card with you.
• Show your card always.
On your medication card, list:
• both regularly used and “as needed”:
o prescription medication
o non-prescription medications
o vitamins, herbal, natural products
• when you take the medication
• why you take the medication
• if you are taking your medication differently than what is prescribed or is on the label
Get your free It’s Safe to Ask Medication Card:
• download here - Save the card to your computer first, then fill it in. Include it in your healthcare plan.
• call 204-927-6477
• email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to watch videos on how to complete and use the Medication Card.
Have a healthcare plan
Being involved in your healthcare requires that you keep your own healthcare plan. Many people may be involved in your healthcare plan – your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, chiropractor, physiotherapist, fitness instructor, counsellor and many more.
A health plan is a record of your past, current and future healthcare information and goals. You can include anything you want to include in the plan. Some suggestions are:
• medication card
• health history (personal and family)
• treatment goals
• surgeries and hospital admissions
• consultations and test results
Click here to download the health plan templates for you to print or save to your computer.
Click here to review the details of a healthcare plan.
Click here to view videos on how to develop a healthcare plan while working with your doctor and pharmacist.
Ask Questions - It’s Safe to Ask
It's Safe to Ask encourages patients and families to request the information they need in order to become active participants in their care.
Ask and have discussion with your health care providers on 3 key questions:
1 – What is my health problem?
2 – What do I need to do?
3 – Why do I need to do this?
Write down your questions, symptoms and concerns. Click here to download a brochure which you can print or save to help you do this. Save the brochure to your computer first, then fill it in. Include it in your healthcare plan. Brochures are available in 15 languages.
Click here to view videos to help you find “Better Ways” to be involved in your healthcare appointments.
Choose a Patient Advocate; Essential Caregivers
A “patient advocate” is an extra set of eyes and ears when you are receiving healthcare. They support you and can speak or ask questions on your behalf if you are feeling ill or upset.
Caregivers are essential partners in care. They can be family, non-family, support people, power of attorney or substitute decision makers. Sometimes your patient advocate may be the same person as your essential caregiver.
Being able to have your advocate or your essential caregiver with you when you receive health services has changed during the pandemic. The policy at the place you receive care, and public health orders, will tell you how your advocate or essential caregiver can support you.
Plan ahead. This is especially important for how your essential caregiver can support you when hospitals and other facilities limit the presence of caregivers.
Choosing a Patient Advocate
An advocate is an extra set of eyes and ears when you are receiving healthcare. They are a great addition to support you at in-person and virtual healthcare appointments.
You decide how involved you want them to be. They can:
• keep notes
• make appointments
• ask questions
• access medical records and information with your permission
They do not have to be experts in healthcare. The need to be willing to speak on your behalf when you are too weak, ill confused or upset. They can help you stay safe in the healthcare system.
Click here for information on how to choose a patient advocate and what they can do. Review and complete “My Patient Advocate Agreement”, available at the same link.
Virtual appointments use technology to connect you to your healthcare provider (e.g. phone, facetime, Zoom meeting). Your advocate can join you at virtual appointments.
For tips and tools to help you make the best out of your virtual appointment, click here.
Caregivers (family or other) are essential partners in care.
It is important to know the difference between caregivers and “visitors”. Visitors are non-essential and not directly partnering in the care of the patient. Caregivers are chosen by the patient and are considered active and essential partners in care.
In healthcare situations that restrict in person presence of essential partners, it can be isolating and frightening for both the patient and the caregiver. Healthcare settings will have guidelines for essential caregivers. Check often as situations can change quickly. It is suggested that reviewing and changing guidelines and policies on essential caregivers should be done with patients, family and caregiver partners. This helps to ensure that experiences and community values are included.
Sometimes physical presence of caregivers is not possible. Caregivers can promote virtual partnership in care, such as active participation in shared decision-making, bedside rounds, daily updates, and daily contact with the patient.
Information and resources in other areas of this page can help caregivers in their role as partners in care.
For more information on essential caregivers, click here.
Understand health information
It is not always easy to understand and remember all the information that you receive in your healthcare appointments. Here are some tips to improve your understanding:
• Prepare in advance for your appointment. For tips and tools to help you make the best out of your virtual appointment, click here.
• Bring your It’s Safe to Ask brochure with your questions, symptoms and concerns.
• If you have more than one health problem, choose the most important one.
• Practise what you will say before the visit.
• Take notes at the appointment.
• If you can, bring an advocate with you. They can ask the questions for you. [see My Patient Advocate Agreement]
• Say “This is new to me. Please explain again.”
• Ask more questions.
• Ask if there is a pamphlet with pictures to explain the facts.
• Do not expect to deal with all your health concerns in one visit. By bringing a list and choosing the most important concern, this will help your healthcare provider identify where to start.
• Make notes at home. Add the new information in your healthcare plan
Doctors Manitoba is reminding Manitobans to continue to seek care for chronic disease and other medical issues that should not wait for COVID-19 to pass. Go to “Don’t Put Your Health on Hold” for information on when and how to access your doctor.
Become a healthcare team player
By being involved in your healthcare, you become a partner in your healthcare journey. You know yourself best and can provide valuable information to your healthcare provider. This can be your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs or concerns. As a member of the healthcare team you provide this valuable information. You also observe care processes, report complications, practice self-management, and offer creative ideas and perspectives. All the tips and resources on this page will help you be an engaged patient and family member, sending the message that you care about your health and want to be included in decisions. Remember - engaged patients and families is a win-win for all concerned. Use the tips and resources on this page and learn to be safe!!