Engagement of Clients and Families at Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre
The Joseph and Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre is an impressive new sight at Vancouver General Hospital. The building opened in late summer of 2017, and features a welcoming and bright building entry, with lots of natural light, 100 private patient rooms, dedicated, comfortable family and visitor space, access to outdoor space, exercise facilities and quiet spaces on each floor. The building consolidates inpatient and outpatient services under one roof to provide clients with the treatment, programs and skills they need to successfully resume life in the community. It is the largest purpose-built facility of its kind in the province, caring for people with mental illness and substance use problems from all walks of life.
Client and Family Voice Woven into Building Design and Operations
From the beginning, the project team overseeing the design and functional operations of the project aimed to involve members of CEAN. Two clients and two family members were recruited to the Segal Stakeholder Committee to provide their input and support the inclusion of patient and family voice in the look, feel and flow of the building. Christie Paxton, who was the Clinical Project Manager for the building talks about the importance of having that voice involved in the project: “Having client and family advisors as integral members of our team throughout the planning process for the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre was invaluable. These advisors brought important perspective to the table, at times, challenging the status quo to strive for the best environment possible in this new innovative building. Areas that were particularly driven by these advisors included clear and intuitive signage and way finding, an information kiosk in the main atrium, and beautification and personalization of the building, including the trail blazing art cart so all residents have access to personalized art in their rooms. Our advisors also spearheaded and drove the creation of the Mission Statement that is posted at the main doors of the building. It was an honour to work with such dedicated and passionate individuals.”
The Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre strives to be a Centre of Excellence for the treatment of mental illness and substance use.
Through the creation of a welcoming, caring and compassionate environment we promote healing to enhance and advance the health of all who need treatment.
The environment and operations of the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health centre allows for flexibility to meet individualized and unique needs, promote autonomy and choice, and support dignity, respect and hope.
Better Decision Making through Client and Family Input
For CEAN member Jody ter Weeme, the process of engagement was a respectful one, and led to “the creation of what is hoped to be a most healing environment for patients, family and staff alike.” Jody joined the project in March of 2016. As a person with lived experience, she was impressed by how the project allowed family members and clients to offer input on “decisions involved in building this state of the art facility. Decision making from floor plans to gardens, from paint colours to door handles, from bedding to artwork, from the greatest to the most minute detail took place during once monthly meetings involving input of engineering, multidisciplinary staff, family and former patients.” Jody notes that with a project this complex and a committee this large, conflict is inevitable. However, she notes that “Respectful dialogue, education and openness ultimately led to understanding, insight and sound decision making.”
Family member and CEAN member Wendy McFeely had a similar experience when she also joined the committee in March of 2016. She states “The warm welcome afforded me as the new family representative on the established Segal Stakeholder Committee made it immediately apparent that arriving half way through the project promised to be positive in every way – and indeed it was.” As a family member Wendy feels that, “the listening and participatory presence around the table as family and client/consumer representatives on committees like the Segal Stakeholder Committee, can and does frequently deepen the insights, dialogue, education and lessening of stigma for all involved.”
Monica MacAlduff, the Director for Vancouver Mental Health & Substance Use Acute, Tertiary & Urgent Services, agrees with Wendy about the impact that patients and family members can have in planning at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). About the Segal project she states: “The CEAN contributions to the Segal building project was so impactful in many ways. To have input and involvement throughout the process kept the project real and reminded the staff of who was at the center of the building – clients and families! We would not have such a wonderful building if not for the voice of the CEAN members informing the project.”
Segal Project Opens Doors to More Engagement
The Segal Stakeholder Committee and its inclusion of clients and family members marked the beginning of a new era of engagement for the Acute, Tertiary and Urgent Mental Health and Substance Use programs at VCH. Since the placement of the first advisors on the committee, the practice of engagement has grown and become more common on interview panels as well as leadership, quality and clinical practice committees. In fact, there are now guidelines in place which have mandated the use of Clients and Family members in those instances. Family/Client Support & Involvement Coordinator for Vancouver Acute, Isabella Mori has felt a definite shift in the drive and passion to do engagement. “Looking back, I think the involvement of advisors in the planning, design and building of the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Center was what gave us a start in true, systematic involvement of client and family advisors in all of VCH & UBC acute. Through these regular interactions with advisors, we started to learn what works, how it works, and what results we can have. There is still lots to learn, to apply and change, but the Segal advisors gave us a head start.”
The CE Team would like to thank the CEAN members and staff who contributed to this article.