Ontario Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council Appointment: Sandra Holdsworth

Congratulations to Sandra Holdsworth on her appointment to Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). Sandra is a member of CDTRP’s Patient, Family, and Donor Partnership Platform and Theme 5 co-lead.

About the Patient And Family Advisory Council (PFAC)

The Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council is an advisory body to the Minister of Health which provides patient perspectives and advice on strategic health policy priorities that have an impact on the care and health care experience of patients. The mandate of the Council is to help improve patient care by ensuring that the voices of patients, families and caregivers are at the centre of policy development and decision-making at the Ministry of Health.


More about Sandra

In 1997, after several years of going undiagnosed with a rare liver disease and Crohn’s disease, I became the proud recipient of a liver transplant. After years of treatment for Crohn’s, I required a permanent ostomy in 2012.

My health care journey has been extensive; I have dealt with melanoma and ongoing I deal with chronic kidney disease.

Using my lived experience as a transplant patient and as a benefactor of organ donation I have gone on to advocate for organ and tissue donation and to help others afflicted with diseases requiring a transplant as well as helping others on their healthcare journey.

I have held various positions in the banking industry including administration, finance, facilities and retail banking, as a personal banking representative and customer service manager.

My role with the Canadian Donation Transplant Research Program (CDTRP) is as a patient partner co-lead on the quality-of-life theme. I help to determine research projects and help to design, recruit and assist with knowledge translation.

I’ve been an active Patient Advisor to Health Quality Ontario and a Patient Advisor to Health Standards Organization on their Acute and Critical Care Technical Committee, recently helping with a Standard on Malnutrition. I’m a board member of The Patient Advisors Network.

For the past two years I have kept busy as a patient partner on the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team’s (MAOHT) Steering Committee. I currently co-chair the MAOHT Patient, Family, Caregiver Partners Advisory Committee.

Locally, I volunteer with Gravenhurst Against Poverty and Gravenhurst Women’s Centre assisting with their communications and fundraising.

Our PFD Platform Manager, Manuel Escoto, caught up recently with Sandra about this great news.

As a patient and caregiver, what does this appointment mean to you?

This appointment is a great opportunity to use my lived experiences as a patient & caregiver to share my ideas and those I have heard from others to help make our health care more people-centred. I’m honoured to have been selected and plan to make my term in this position as impactful as possible. I’ll be listening to the opinions of other patients & caregivers as well as continuing to learn as much as I can about healthcare.

What do you hope to achieve in this role?
  • To use my patient experience and knowledge gained by being a patient partner in research, health standards & our local Ontario Health Team to help improve our healthcare system.
  • Ensure equitable access to health for all.
  • Help to implement recommendations by patients & caregivers as policy.
  • Make access to Mental Health Professionals & resources available to all (especially considering the impact COVID-19 has had).
How has your role as CDTRP co-lead of Theme 5 and within the Patient, Family, and Donor Research Platform prepared you for your role in PFAC?

My role with CDTRP has certainly helped prepare me for this role. The main thing is that when we all work together as a team we are more effective. Also knowing what I have shared regarding my personal journey & insight has not only been heard, many of my suggestions have been used. I feel I have an equal voice at the table. Recently I received this feedback on a project I was collaborating on: “We would like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to give feedback on our project documents. After meeting with our patient partners, we revised the study documents, incorporating as much of the feedback as possible. Your review has been instrumental in improving the messaging, thank you so much!  Merci, merci, merci Sandra! Really appreciated.”