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Putting the patient experience first: Correctional Health Services peer support worker channels own experience to help others

This Patient Experience Week, April 25-May 1, we meet Steve, a peer support worker and former client with Correctional Health Services (CHS).
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​At Correctional Health Services (CHS), peer support worker Steve understands how important a positive patient experience can be in helping clients on their journey towards a healthy, meaningful life.

"The biggest misconception is that people in corrections are bad people trying to get good, it's more like we're sick people trying to get well and we need help."

Steve struggled with substance use for many years and was in and out of custody several times. After eight or nine years, he reached a point where he was ready to make a change and did so with the help of staff at CHS.

"As a person who utilized the service, I can say that when I was ready for a change, there were people there that were willing to help me every step of the way," said Steve. "This went a long way in helping me achieve the life I have today. I had nothing when I got released last time but CHS really helped to make sure that I had what I needed to transition properly to the community. They made sure the services I needed were available to me and that I was safe. It was a really supportive environment and a positive experience."

Evidence has shown that organizations with a patient-centred focus see higher clinical quality and efficiency, a safer patient environment and greater staff engagement. At every site and within every program at BCMHSUS, patient experience is front-of-mind.

"Everyone has a role to play in creating a positive experience for patients and clients, from our intake nurses, to our chief operating officers, housekeeping and administration, we are all a part of the patient experience."

"Everyone has a role to play in creating a positive experience for patients and clients, from our intake nurses, to our chief operating officers, housekeeping and administration, we are all a part of the patient experience," said Kathryn Proudfoot, director of patient experience and community engagement at BCMHSUS. "Together we strive to provide an exceptional patient experience by placing the patient and their family at the centre of our planning, policies, programs and care as a whole."

 

According to Steve, the interdisciplinary teams at CHS played a big part in the patient experience. With everything from psychologists and nurses to social workers and peer mentors working together, clients have access to the wrap-around care and support services they need to be successful following their release.

Steve recalls the empathy and kindness of one particular staff member, a social worker named Kimberley with the Community Transition Teams.

"There is a whole bunch of staff who helped me in the transition from inside to outside but Kimberley went above and beyond," he said. "She helped me so much in the centre and in helping me to get follow up treatment after my release. She is a beautiful person and I have so much gratitude for her."

Steve's lived and living experience with mental health and substance use challenges have enabled him to step into a role where he can provide informed, empathetic support to others experiencing similar situations. He believes his positive experience and the support available to him was paramount in being able to save his own life and now, to help others to do the same.

"As a peer mentor, I can say 'hey this worked for me, it can work for you too.'"

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If you're interested in learning more about how the patient experience can influence health outcomes, take a look at these patient stories:


 
 
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