As a former client at Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (now Red Fish Healing Centre), Mark Brady is grateful to BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services for giving him the opportunity to give back.
After his discharge from treatment, Mark joined the Patient and Family Partner Network. In this role, he has participated in research study design and funding decisions, policy feedback, client and family education at Red Fish Healing Centre – where he was once a client – and steering committees.
“The Patient and Family Partner Network is a safe and empowering space, and has provided me with continuing education, support, hope, and a sense of purpose that I hadn't been able to find elsewhere," says Mark. “I am sincerely grateful to BCMHSUS to be able to give back as someone who has been blessed with this new life, which I am so thankful for."
Mark's experience is why the Patient Experience and Community Engagement team at BCMHSUS does what it does. It's also why team members recently received the 2023 Excellence in Patient Experience Award from the Canadian College of Health Leaders.
Kathryn Proudfoot has led the Patient Experience and Community Engagement team for the past four years – since this portfolio started. For Kathryn, how patients and clients feel when they access our services defines their health care experience.
“Did you feel safe? That your care was rooted in dignity and respect? Like a partner in your care? That you received care that contributed to your wellness journey? The evidence shows us that people have good patient experiences when their care is rooted in partnership, dignity and respect, and health outcomes will be better as well," says Kathryn.
Kathryn's team of six is constantly looking for innovative ways to improve this experience and is often informed by clients and families who have used mental health and substance use services. This is particularly important within BCMHSUS, where clients may be mandated by legislation to be in care. Because of the stigma around mental health, substance use, and incarceration, their voices may be not heard or represented in the same way as different voices.
It's also priority and continual learning journey for the team to address and work to eradicate Indigenous-specific racism in the health-care system. They work closely with our colleagues in Indigenous Health to ensure Indigenous thought leadership and ways of knowing are lifting and elevating experiences of care for Indigenous patients and their families.
The Excellence in Patient Experience Award is focused on honouring organizations and individuals who have set in place innovations that improve the human experience in health care.
“It came unexpectedly, but it's such a nice recognition and honour," Kathryn says. “We don't do this work with recognition in mind. We're a small-but-mighty team, and we come from very different backgrounds, but one thing that unites us is the commitment and passion for what we do. Our hope is that this work spreads."
Kathryn is grateful for the staff championing this work across the province, and the patients and clients who bravely come forward with their stories. Today, there are over 100 people engaging with BCMHSUS as part of the Patient and Family Partner Network.
“They want to use their stories, which are often linked to discomfort and even trauma, to impact the patient experience for future clients and families. That continues to inspire me and push me forward every day," says Kathryn.
“Substance use and the drug poisoning crisis has hit my community hard," says Mark Brady. “The opportunities I've had to provide my voice to BCMHSUS and work alongside senior leaders have helped me greatly along this journey."
Congratulations to Kathryn and her team – Katie Mai, Babak Bohlouli, Chris Lamoureux, Sandy Tedjasubrata and Laura Accili – on receiving this award!