Doctor's Day: Colloboration, Compassion and Patient-Centred Care

Today, we are celebrating another Doctors' Day and this has led me to reflect upon the work of our physicians and how it affects the care we deliver at Ontario Shores. In Ontario, we know that more than 320,000 patients are treated and cared for by a doctor and I think we can agree that Ontario's doctors are making a positive difference in the lives of patients by providing high-quality care when it's needed most.

Founded in 2011, after the Honourable Reza Moridi introduced a motion in the Ontario Legislature to create a special day that would recognize the work of the province's 26,000 physicians, Doctors' Day gives us the opportunity to highlight a number of key areas. May 1st was chosen as Doctors' Day in Ontario to mark the birthdate of Emily Stowe, Canada's first female practicing physician and a founder of the women's movement in Canada.

For me, the key themes of Doctors' Day have always been:

  • High-quality care
  • Patient-centred care
  • Collaboration
  • Compassion
  • Trusted leaders and innovators
  • Dedication

In this blog post, I'd like to focus on the notion of person and family centred care and it's applicability to mental health care, particularly here at Ontario Shores.

In person-centred care, we work collaboratively with people who use the services. Care that is person and family-centred supports people to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to more effectively manage and make informed decisions about their own health and health care. It is coordinated and tailored to the needs of the individual. And, crucially, it ensures people are always treated with dignity, compassion and respect.

This might seem like a common sense vision for any form of health care, but it has not been a standard practice in mental health care. Often, mental health service providers have focused on doing 'to' or 'for' people rather than 'with' them, and they have found it difficult to include people in decisions, trained in viewing people's goals only in terms of particular clinical outcomes.

But for care to be truly enabling, the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients needs to be a partnership, rather than one in which the professional is the expert while the patient simply follows their instructions. It is a relationship in which healthcare professionals and patients work together to:

  1. understand what is important to the person
  2. make decisions about their care and treatment
  3. identify and achieve their goals

Mental health care professionals, peer support workers and others all have a role in supporting people to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to fully participate in this partnership. In addition to the clear ethical rationale for doing so, there are also some very practical reasons for adopting person and family-centred care. Many people want to play a more active role in their healthcare, and there is growing evidence that approaches that focus on shared decision making and self-management will improve the patient experience, care quality and health outcomes.

At Ontario Shores, we have an innovative approach to mental health care that uses clinical best practices and evidence-based care in an environment built on compassion, empowerment and hope. We use a recovery model of care throughout the organization. Our Recovery Model is based on the principles of empowerment, hope, collaboration, identity, responsibility and meaning in life. The model builds on thet care model through a holistic patient-centred approach. It combines medical, rehabilitation and psychological perspectives in the treatment of mental illness. The shared journey promotes inclusion and empowerment of patients and treatment options that are tailored to the individual needs of patients to support their well-being.

We have found that organizational processes and systems can also affect attempts to implement person-centred care. We have worked hard to ensure that our electronic health record system supports people in easily accessing their health record, their test results and much other information through our patient portal, Ontario Shores' HealthCheck. More fundamentally, we know organizational culture can have a big influence on whether teams and individuals feel motivated and able to work in a person-centred way.

It is clear that support and buy-in from senior leaders, acting as champions for change, can have a powerful effect. On this Doctor's Day, I am proud to be part of the Senior Management Team at Ontario Shores and help champion these initiatives.

Please view the Ontario Medical Association's Doctor's Day webpage at Feel free to post a message there about a doctor who has touched your life.  For every story posted online, the OMA will contribute $1 to the Canadian Red Cross.