How ‘design thinking’ is paving the way for change at PHC’s residential care sites

Feb 26, 2015 | Spotlight

Brock Fahrni resident Evelyn Brown with Cathy Helliwell, corporate director, Think PHC.Brock Fahrni resident Evelyn Brown with Cathy Helliwell, corporate director, Think PHC.

How can we improve residential care and ensure sustainability while caring for an increasing proportion of residents with complex mental health issues, in aging infrastructure?

We don't know yet, but we're finding out.

Providence Health Care strives to provide the best quality care possible at our five residential care sites — care that is centred-around, and defined-by, the needs and wishes of each resident, their family and our staff.

However, the landscape of residential care is changing, and our ability to provide the best care possible is increasingly challenged. Despite our many successes, we hear the need for improvement from our residents, families, staff and volunteers. In order to ensure the long term sustainability and viability of our residential care system within the broader context of our health system, we need to review and re-examine the way we’ve been doing things. This is also critical if we want to be able to provide residential care that stays true to the mission and vision of PHC.

Residential Care for Me is an important innovation and improvement project happening at all five Providence Health Care residential care sites: Youville Residence, Holy Family Hospital, St. Vincent’s: Brock Fahrni, St. Vincent’s: Langara and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. Led by the site and program leaders of residential care at PHC and supported by the PHC’s Research & Design team, Residential Care for Me strives to understand what happens in residential care by piecing together the individual experiences of people who live, work and visit our sites. The project is aligned with PHC’s mission, vision and values, the Providence Plan’s emphasis on the Innovation, Care Experience, Quality & Safety and People, and the values of our guiding principle, the Eden philosophy.

Harvey Bosma, professional practice leader, Social Work with Brock Fahrni resident Robert Chartier.

"Residential Care for Me started as a group of leaders across PHC struggling with supporting our staff, families and residents," says Jo-Ann Tait, site operations leader at Youville Residence. "We found ourselves asking: ‘How can we be expected to do more with less? How can we provide the quality care that we are proud of once again? How do we help our residents and families navigate the system and how do we meet their unique needs?’ These kinds of questions fueled us to partner with stakeholders in and outside of our organization to develop the vision, 'Helping people find community, honouring their unique journeys'."

We’re using a variety of different approaches to collect valuable, qualitative and quantitative data about life at our sites, such as talking to residents, families, staff and volunteers through focus groups and surveys; asking residents to take pictures and discuss the meaning behind these photos; observing a day in the life of residents and staff and taking the time to listen and gather individual stories.

This internal research, in combination with best practice literature reviews, will help us anticipate future needs and directions so we can co-create solutions with residents, families and staff to ensure long term sustainability and a high quality of care in our residential care services.

"We're throwing away the map, erasing pre-conceived notions of what we, as health care leaders, think the residential care experience is,” says Sonia Hardern, PHC Research & Design team lead. “Instead, human-centred design teaches us to use empathy to try to understand what the reality is for residents, families and staff."

The project began in March of 2014 and we are approaching the completion of phase 1:

"While it seems daunting at times to think of changing a residential care system that has been in existence for so long, we owe it to our residents, their families and our amazing staff to try," says Jo-Ann. "To try to make this world better than when we first arrived — isn’t that what we are here for?"

A behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the Residential Care for Me video.

To find out more about the Residential Care for Me project and the R&D methodology behind it, please watch this video:

Questions? Comments? Please contact Sonia Hardern or Jo-Ann Tait


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