Encouragement for patients to ask questions about their care will now be served up alongside meals at Tauranga Hospital.
Meal trays for patients in seven wards across the hospital now include tray liners which encourage patients to ask doctors and nurses four key questions about their care:
What is the matter with me?
What is going to happen next?
What needs to happen before I can go home?
When am I going to go home?
"If you feel unsure about your care in any way, please ask. That's what we're saying," says Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief operating officer Pete Chandler.
"Our patients have told us they don't always understand what's happening to them in hospital. So knowing what's wrong with them, what their next treatment is, what needs to happen before they can go home and when that will happen are all very important."
Patient feedback has shown people who are well informed about their care recover better and are more likely to go home from hospital on time.
"This initiative is about encouraging our patients to have those conversations," says Pete.
"At the same time we're working with our staff to improve the way we communicate with patients, it's a two-way street."
Patient Teina Leef, from Whakatane, applauds the meal tray concept.
"I think it's a really good idea. You can have some patients who are a little shy and this prompts them and, in a way, gives them permission to ask those questions."
Pete says the initiative, which includes the Medical, Surgical and Orthopaedics Wards at Tauranga Hospital, will be monitored closely.
In the future it might also be extended to other wards and services, including Whakatane Hospital.