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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Niagara Health Engagement Network

We compiled questions that are frequently asked about the Patient Partner role and the Niagara Health Engagement Network. If you have additional questions, please contact the Patient Partnership and Relations team at or at 905-378-4647 extension 44427.

Q: Why get involved?

A: The NHEN Patient Partners will play an active role in shaping the future of Niagara Health. They will have the opportunity to:

  • Bring their experience(s) as a patient or caregiver and share their perspective with others.
  • Provide input that will help create, implement and evaluate care and service delivery
  • Contribute to patient and staff safety
  • Contribute to organizational change, transformation and improvement opportunities
  • Take part in skill building opportunities

Q: Who is qualified to be a Patient Partner?

A: The Niagara Health Engagement Network is seeking patients, caregivers and community members who are:

  • Living well in the community with their health condition
  • Willing to share their own hospital experience, while being able to see beyond their own experience to provide meaningful input
  • Able to share their stories and experiences to help shape care and service delivery
  • Able to listen well and enjoy working with others
  • Able to see the big picture and help the organization achieve our strategic goals

Q: What is the Niagara Health Engagement Network (NHEN)?

A: The Niagara Health Engagement Network is a roster of individuals within the community who have been a patient at Niagara Health (NH), a family member, friend or a community member committed to helping make a positive difference in local healthcare. Patient Partners of the NHEN will have direct input and play an active role in shaping policies and program development at Niagara Health (examples include working groups, special projects and documentation development and review).

Q: Am I qualified to be a Patient Partner?

A: In order to be a Patient Partner, you should be a past or current patient, have a loved one who is a current or previous patient, or be a community member who wants to help make a difference. You must be able to work collaboratively with staff and other families with an open and non-judgmental attitude.

Q: What is the difference between Niagara Health Engagement Network (NHEN) and other hospital patient and family advisory committees?

A: The NHEN has a rostered approach. This allows individuals to be partnered with NH staff in the areas best suited to their interests and background without having a formalized committee.  There is no right or wrong way for partnering with patients and families, but we feel this will suit our needs as we continue to include patients and families in all that we do. And it will fulfill your needs to contribute and make a difference.

Q: What is the difference between a Niagara Health volunteer and an Engagement Network Patient Partner?

A: Our NH volunteers are members of the community who choose to volunteer their time in a number of areas including auxiliary membership, patient and family care, information and customer service and project based opportunities. Our Engagement Network Patient Partner has different roles/responsibilities and may be involved in various engagement activities throughout the organization. They bring their perspectives and insights to help in quality improvement and decision making. All Patient Partners are Niagara Health volunteers and can also partake in other volunteer opportunities that may interest them as well.

Q: What will my role be as a Patient Partner?

A: Your role as a Patient Partner will be to actively collaborate with NH staff in a number of different areas. This role gives you the opportunity to share your experience with NH staff. Opportunities include committee advisor, work group advisor, program and policy evaluator, health literacy reviewer, focus group participant etc.

Q: What is the time commitment required for a Patient Partner?

A: It depends. Generally the commitment is two or four hours per month, however, this can change depending on what engagement activity you are working on or what committee you are a part of.  It also depends on how much time you want to contribute. Some Patient Partners find such enjoyment that they participate in several initiatives.

Q: I was a healthcare provider in the past; can I use that experience and training in my Patient Partner role?

A: No, as a volunteer Patient Partner, the role is to use your experience as a patient, caregiver or community member. While we recognize that your experience has assisted others during your career, the role we are asking of our partners is purely from the lens of the patient/caregiver/community member.

Q: Where do I find the application to become a Patient Partner?

A: You can find the application to become a volunteer Patient Partner on the NH website. Applications are also available through our Patient Partnership and Relations team or Volunteer Resources.

Q: What is the application process for becoming a Patient Partner?

A: The application process includes an interview, immunization screening, criminal reference check and orientation.

Q: How long will the process take to become a Patient Partner?

A: The process may take six to eight weeks to complete.

Q: Why do I need to do a criminal background check with a vulnerable sector search?

A: Criminal background checks with vulnerable sector searches are required for the purpose of volunteering. It is intended for volunteer applicants who will be in a position of trust or authority over children or vulnerable persons in Canada.

Q: What are the immunization requirements?

A: If accepted, the applicant receives the Communicable Disease Surveillance Form/CDSP (Health Testing) to be completed. This process requires:

  • A two-step TB Skin Test
  • A copy of your  Immunization Record, or proof of immunity, of MMR and varicella

Q: Am I entitled to free parking as a Patient Partner?

A: Yes, as a Patient Partner you will be entitled to free parking when you are onsite as part of your role.

Q: Who can I contact with further questions regarding the Patient Partner role?

A: You can contact the Patient Partnerships and Relations team at:  905-378-4647 ext. 44427 or

Q: Who do I call for a specific initiative?

A: Once you are oriented and matched, you will be connected with the person you will be working with.

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