Patient Participation in Hospital Care: How Equal is the Voice of the Client Council?
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SourceHealth Care Analysis, 23, 3, (2015), pp. 238-252
Article / Letter to editor
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Health Care Analysis
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
Patient participation in healthcare is highly promoted for democratic reasons. Older patients make up a large part of the hospital population but their voices are less easily heard by most patient participation instruments. The client council can be seen as an important medium to represent the interests of this increasing group of patients. Every Dutch healthcare institution is obliged to have a client council and its rights are legally established. This paper reports on a case study of a client council in a hospital and shows how equality as the core democratic value manifests itself in practice and marginalizes the voices of older patients. Based on the work of Joan Tronto we show that sameness is the driving force behind the functioning of the client council which leads the council to operate as part of the hospital system. Consequently, important aspects of the hospital practice remain out of sight. To be of greater value for all patients we argue that successful patient participation requires not only equal opportunities but also 'the condition of equal voice'.
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