In this resource :

Engaging Patients in Patient Safety – a Canadian Guide 

When healthcare providers work closely with patients and their families, the healthcare system is safer, and patients have better experiences and health outcomes – as demonstrated by emerging evidence.

Engaging Patients in Patient Safety – a Canadian Guide is packed with useful information written by and for patients, providers, and leaders. 

What does patient engagement look like? 

Engagement work can be challenging and uncomfortable at first. But finding innovative ways to work together will benefit everyone.  

Engagement with patients and families includes: 

  • program and service design and delivery 
  • monitoring, evaluating, policy and priority setting 
  • governance 

Providers, patients and leaders all have a role to play. 

Providers may need to let go of control, change behaviours to actively listen to what patients are saying and take additional time to understand the patient perspective. They’ll also need more effective ways to brainstorm ideas together, build trust and incorporate different perspectives.  

Patients need to be encouraged to participate more actively in decisions about their care.  

Leaders must support all of this work by revising their practices to embed patient engagement in their procedures, policies and structures.  

We invite you to join us in advancing patient safety through patient and family engagement.


We update this resource regularly. To ensure you are accessing the most up-to-date version, we recommend that you bookmark this page for future reference.

What is the purpose of the guide?  

The purpose of this guide is to help patients and families, providers and leaders work more effectively together to improve patient safety. The guide is an extensive resource that is based on evidence and leading practices. 

Who is this guide for?  

This guide is for anyone involved with patient safety and interested in engagement, including: 

  • patients and families interested in how to partner in their own care to ensure safety 
  • patient partners interested in how to help improve patient safety 
  • providers interested in creating collaborative care relationships with patients and families 
  • managers and leaders responsible for patient engagement, patient safety and/or quality improvement 
  • anyone interested in partnering with patients to develop care programs and systems. 

While the guide focuses primarily on patient safety, many engagement practices apply to other areas, including quality, research and education. The guide is designed to support patient engagement across the healthcare sector.

What is included in the guide?

In this guide you will find: 

  • evidence-based guidance 
  • practical patient engagement practices 
  • consolidated information, resources and tools 
  • supporting evidence and examples from across Canada
  • experiences from patients and families, providers and leaders 
  • probing questions about how to strengthen current approaches 
  • strategies and policies to meet standards and organizational practice requirements. 

Because of the key role accreditation plays in establishing patient engagement as a core feature of healthcare, the guide is closely aligned with the standards established by the Health Standards Organization (HSO)/Accreditation Canada. Throughout the guide, the HSO logo indicates the points of alignment. 

To learn how and why the guide was developed, read this page

To contribute to the guide (e.g., with resources, leading practices, potential topics) or to be the first to know about updates, email:  

HEC logoAtlantic Collaborative

Health Quality Ontario logoPFPSC logoCitation: 

Patient Engagement Action Team. 2017. Engaging Patients in Patient Safety – a Canadian Guide. HEC. Last modified December 2019.