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Nothing About Us Without Us 

Bringing client voices to the forefront of Ottawa healthcare design 

Client engagement is a relatively new objective within the recognized aim of healthcare quality in Canada. Only within the past 20 years has client involvement been integrated into planning and performance monitoring.

Now, engagement means more participation, proactive involvement and priority setting from and for clients. It is the new foundation of system change.  

In 2020, a call went out for clients who might be interested in contributing to the early work of our Ontario Health Team, which brought together a group of people with a range of lived experiences but a common objective of re-making the healthcare system into one that is client and caregiver driven.  

The OHT - ÉSO is encouraging clients to help co-design clinical pathways to ensure they are reflective and responsive to the needs of the end user; the clients themselves. 

Here is what Tim Hutchinson and Pierrette Leonard think of those efforts so far, in their own words. 

I have participated in a client advisor role prior to my involvement with the OHT.  I helped establish the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) Rainbow Patient Family Advisory Council and have acted as the Co-Chair for more than 2yrs. The advisor role is slowly evolving to establish a "co-creation" approach where advisors are part of a project team.


I’ve been a client partner with the Bruyère Family Health Team for the last several years. It was because of this experience that I became interested in applying as a partner with the Ottawa Health Team.  

I saw it as an opportunity to escalate my skills as a client partner, and someone who could bring two kinds of voices to the table:  a person with a chronic health condition, and someone who had knowledge of the healthcare system professionally before I retired.   

The Ottawa OHT is genuinely wanting to develop and evolve a client/patient/family advisor that is trying to embrace a "co-creation" model of engagement that wants to embed client-lived experience and perspective into all aspects of the OHT.   



You carry in your head, not only your own experience, but the concerns of other patients who are trying to navigate the healthcare system. We all have different experiences, but getting access to the best healthcare possible, is the same goal for everyone, made even more difficult for the more vulnerable in our communities. 

The Ottawa OHT is committed to and anchored in principles of Health Equity and Population Health. Ottawa OHT truly values and actively seeks to listen to the client voice, varied perspectives and seek meaningful and realistic ways to engage clients/communities to improve health care delivery in our region.  

Consequently, as an advisor, I don't feel I am being treated as a "token" but rather an important and meaningful contributor to make things better.  



At the OHT, in the last two years, I’ve been quite impressed by the desire to have clients have their say, in clients working side by side with health professionals and administrators on solutions to confounding issues. Patients are not seen in the same light as before – they bring stories that make the issues real. 

It is so refreshing to see there are service delivery providers who are committed to working together across the various silos and sectors to embrace a coordinated continuum of care and the urgent need for significant health system change. 




The stories, the stories, and more stories! Everyone has one – patients, caregivers, practitioners. If you listen carefully, not just hear the stories, you realize (see) the connections that unite us in healthcare, no matter which table you sit at. 


To learn more about the Client Partner Table, go to Client Partner Table Ottawa Health Team – Équipe Santé Ottawa 

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