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Eastern Health’s counseling services on the Burin Peninsula named leading practice

BURIN, N.L. - Steps taken by Eastern Health’s redesign mental health and addictions counseling services on the Burin Peninsula have gained attention from Health Care Canada.

The health care authority has been recognized under the Excellence in Patient Engagement for Patient Safety Recognition Program.

The program, developed in partnership with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), HealthCareCAN (HCC) and Health Standards Organization (HSO) with support from Patients for Patient Safety Canada; identifies, celebrates, and spreads leading practices in patient engagement for patient safety.

Eastern Health mental health and addictions manager for the Burin Peninsula, Evelyn Tilley, told The Southern Gazette on Feb. 4, that while Eastern Health is receiving the recognition, the credit belongs to the stakeholders that advised Eastern Health on what mental health and addictions services best fit the region.

“What is innovative, or remarkable I think from this perspective is that we worked with the stakeholder group to find a solution to something that wasn’t working well,” she said. “It was about finding a way to design something new, that meets the need of the community.”

The stakeholder group is comprised of members of staff at Eastern Health, community members, community groups and people described by Tilley as having lived experience.

She added that as a result of the redesign, Eastern Health has seen the wait times for patients looking to avail of mental health and addictions services drop from eight months to zero, with a walk-in clinic making it easier to seek professional help.

Tilley noted that in the previous model there were a high number of no-shows for appointment times.

“People were waiting too long,” said Tilley. “So, by the time that we reached out to them, they were no longer interested.

“The other piece of that is we were scheduling times for people that perhaps were not convenient times for them. In our new redesign people are telling us when they need the service and what time is convenient for them.”

While Tilley said walk-in clinics are currently between the hours of 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., the need for extended clinic hours will be examined when Eastern Health rolls out phase two of the program.

Tilley explained that representatives from Eastern Health have also been invited to speak about the redesign of mental health and addictions counseling services on the Burin Peninsula during the National Health Leadership Conference to be held in Toronto in June.

“Whenever we’re sharing a leading practice, we hope that other jurisdictions, other communities might take some of what we’ve learned and apply it to their own community,” said Tilley. “That’s not to say it’s a one-size-fits-all but we’ve had some learnings along the way, and we definitely know that you have to involve the people that need the services the most.

“You have to ask people what they need. You have to be open to listening to them.”

colin.farrell@southerngazette.ca

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