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What is life like during treatment at Heartwood? There’s an app for that

Heartwood Centre for Women worked with program alumni, staff, health authority liaisons, and community partners to develop a new pre-admission app to better support clients.
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​Heartwood Centre for Women is supporting clients before they step foot in the facility, with the launch of a new digital handbook​.​

This application is shared with potential clients when they’re referred to Heartwood. By having a clear understanding of what life during treatment is like before admission, it helps to lift barriers that prevent people from fully engaging with treatment.

Taking action to meet the needs of clients

The idea started a few years ago, during a journey mapping project. As part of the project, clients were asked what was working for them and what wasn’t working for them. They shared questions they’d had, and information they’d wanted, before starting the program.

“Our Patient and Family Engagement team started exploring a digital platform to address these needs, and we’re excited to see it come to fruition,” says Becky Hynes, director, Interprofessional Practice, Heartwood Centre for Women.

“Our hope is people will have access to the right information at the right time," adds Becky.​

Heartwood alumni, staff, health authority liaisons, and community partners worked together to design the look and feel of the digital handbook. They also ensured the content was relevant and accessible to clients, as well as their family and friends.Learn more about Heartwood Centre for Women.​

Developed by former clients for future clients

POD newsletter image (960 × 717 px) - Kayla2.pngKayla Sankey wishes this tool had been available a couple years ago, when she was preparing for enter Heartwood’s 90-day treatment program.

“Before I came to Heartwood, it was hard for me to take in information and sort it all in my brain,” says Kayla. “The handbook is welcoming, easy-to-digest and not overwhelming. It fills in the blanks on what to expect, which can be a relief and a comfort.”

From their phone, tablet, or computer, potential clients can navigate through these topics:

  • Referral & Waitlist
  • First Few Weeks
  • Living at Heartwood
  • Friends & Family
  • Substance Use & Relapse
  • Treatment & Healing
  • Indigenous Cultural Support
  • Alumni Advice ​

Kayla played a key role in developing the application. From spearheading the development of the Alumni Advice section to highlight alumni voices, to leading workshops to gather feedback, to making decisions – “my fingerprints are all over it,” says Kayla.

“Heartwood changed my life completely and now I get to do all this incredible work with them,” Kayla adds. “My involvement with this app was another part of giving back to this program and helping future clients so they can hit the ground running.”

Supporting Indigenous clients

As an Indigenous woman, Kayla appreciates that Indigenous clients can learn more about the culturally-safe care available at Heartwood.

“The Indigenous Cultural Support section gives clarity on how Indigenous clients will be supported and what’s available to them at the centre, like smudging supplies, so they don’t have to bring them themselves,” says Kayla.

The app also shares information about the team members in place to support Indigenous clients. This includes an Indigenous care coordinator, who can help connect people with traditional medicines and healing ceremonies, as well as support people to reconnect to family, community, and culture.

Knowing this support is available at Heartwood can also make it easier for Indigenous clients who may be coming from rural and remote communities.

A team effort

Kayla_Becky.jpegThe team collaborated closely with Georgia McWilliams and Ellen Louie at Tickit Health to bring the digital handbook to life.

“Everyone brings something special to Heartwood, whether it's a staff person, alumni, or the people currently in the program. The handbook is part of that – we all worked on it together," says Becky. “It's been such a great partnership between the health service and the people who've been through it."

Pictured above, left to right: Kayla and Becky.

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