Council Charter

Our Objectives

The Patient and Family Advisory Council will:

  • Work together with the administrative team of Vanderbilt Behavioral Health (“VBH”) to promote principles of patient-and family-centered care;
  • Collaborate with VPH leadership to improve the quality of care provided to patients and their families;
  • Collaborate with VBH leadership to improve patient and family satisfaction;
  • Offer suggestions to VBH leadership in planning and evaluating services, programs, policies, teaching materials, and education to healthcare providers;
  • Promote a positive relationship among VBH, its families, and the regional community and thereby serve as a vital link between the hospital and the community.
  • Contribute to the education of present and future healthcare providers at VBH.
  • Serve on key committees related to patient care such as (but not limited to) patient safety and patient satisfaction.

Scope of Work Statement

The Vanderbilt Behavioral Health Patient and Family Advisory Council provides patient and family perspectives in the development and implementation of programs, policies, and practice standards.  The Patient and Family Advisory Council has the authority given it by the Administration of Vanderbilt Behavioral Health.  It cannot enter into agreements or bind Vanderbilt Behavioral Health in any other fashion.  Events organized by the Patient and Family Advisory Council and statements issued by the Patient and Family Advisory Council on behalf of Vanderbilt Behavioral Health are done so with prior approval of VBH leadership.

Our Commitment

The Patient and Family Advisory Council is comprised of patients and family members who have:

  • Experience with VBH or other providers in the mental health community in either inpatient or outpatient settings.
  • Time available to contribute to the group, by attending regularly scheduled meetings and/or by providing input on projects in some capacity;
  • A commitment to quality health care at VBH;
  • The ability to support the patient and family-centered care values of VBH;
  • A desire to be part of a decision-making process; and a commitment to support the Council’s recommendations;
  • Respect for confidentiality and will not discuss any information deemed personal or confidential outside of the Council setting.

The Chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council is responsible for:

  • Serving as spokesperson for the Council;
  • Representing the Council on designated VBH or VUMC committees;
  • Maintaining close communication with VBH leadership;
  • Assisting with the recruitment of new members;
  • Creating an environment of open communication with all members during and outside of meetings;
  • Preparing for facilitation of Council meetings, which includes assisting with the agenda and the previous meeting’s minutes;
  • Providing all members with timely, appropriate information as requested.
  • Fulfilling a 3 year commitment to the Council (Year 1 as Chair-Elect, Year 2 as Chair, Year 3 as Past Chair)


The council is comprised of both patient and family members. The council welcomes all families and strives to include people with diverse backgrounds in the hopes that we will fully represent the large variety of healthcare issues, diagnoses, and cultures of BPH patients.

Included in the Council is the Chair, the Chair - Elect, and the Past Chair whom the Council has selected.

In addition to patients and family members, VBH staff / health care providers from diverse areas of the hospital make up the remainder of the Council.


Membership term will be for two years with the option of renewing membership after each term.  The goal for annual membership will include 25% new members.  Family advisors and leaders will transition into their roles effective at the July meeting each year. Selection of the Chair-Elect position will take place in June.  The Chair will serve for three years as outlined above.

New Membership/Recruitment

Nominations for members are received from current Council members or VBH faculty and staff, and any family member may make a self-referral.  The Chair and a designated VBH representative will meet with the prospective member.  At least one VBH staff member who knows the nominee will be consulted.  Membership recruitment will be an ongoing process to bring in new perspectives and expertise to the Council.


The council will meet regularly at VBH.  Meetings are open to anyone who wishes to observe and may be done via conference call with members who are unable to attend in person.  One week prior to the meeting the draft agenda will be sent to members.  Dinner is provided and parking is free.  The Council realizes that VBH serves a broad geographical area and given that its members may have medical needs or travel constraints, not all members may be able to attend meetings.  Therefore, special considerations are made for members that can best serve the Council by contributing via email, telephone, alternative meetings, or by other means of communication.

Agenda and Meeting Minutes

The Chair, Chair-Elect and VBH leadership will compile the agenda.  Any member who has an item for the agenda is encouraged to submit their idea before the meeting.  The agenda will be sent out one week in advance of the upcoming meeting along with the minutes from the previous meeting.  Minutes are kept at each meeting by a designated individual, reviewed by the Chair, and are distributed to all members by a VBH staff liaison.

Vanderbilt Behavioral Health’s commitment to the Council

VBH is dedicated to working with the Council in keeping with the hospital’s commitment to patient-and family-centered care.  VBH will:

  • Collaborate with the council in policy-making and in the planning and evaluating of programs and services;
  • Receive and respond to recommendations from the Council;
  • Offer new member orientation to VBH’s structure and decision making process;
  • Provide meeting space, dinner, and free parking for members;
  • Provide staff support for preparation and distribution of meeting minutes, agendas, and any other Council communication; and
  • Offer financial support for Council activities as appropriate.