“The more we listen, the more healthcare improves”

Listening to what persons have to say about their own recovery was key, as Dr. Sean Kidd presented at the most recent Grand Rounds session. 

Discussing ways to advance inpatient practice through engagement with former clients, Dr. Kidd - Assistant Professor University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry and Psychologist in Chief (interim) from CAMH was clear as to its benefits.

The inpatient experience is usually the first substantive point of contact with mental health care for people living with a mental illness.  This Dr. Kidd explains meant that this experience was important to developing strategies for advancing systems within the recovery framework.  “About 50 percent of all mental health dollars in Canada goes to support some type of inpatient care,” added Kidd.

This is therefore a significant population whose needs should be addressed in the recovery process.  The survey initially showed that persons who are inpatients may not feel engaged in their recovery.  This feeling is often categorized by a power differential and is often complicated because those persons in inpatient care may be seen when there are in crisis or very unwell.

In spite of this, a program designed to engage with clients face to face resulted in greater understanding for both clients and the clinical staff. “These conversations with inpatients about their experiences resulted in a greater understanding of how facets of their lives affect wellness,” says Kidd.  The overall impact from these conversations was a feeling of hope for both patients and staff. “Patients had more knowledge about the recovery model and their role in this process, while staff saw their role as being more meaningful,” adds Kidd.

The engagement also resulted in an opportunity to reflect on the inpatient practice to focus more on the human element and being able to become more active in reducing the cycle of frustration for patients, as well as assessing goals and supports beyond medication.

The overall findings were that engagement resulted in empowerment of patients and staff, facilitating the desire to be able to relate at a human level with compassion and being able to advocate where necessary.