The Royal transforms delivery of mental health care shoulder-to-shoulder with clients and their families

Change is happening at The Royal — change that is transforming the way that mental health care is delivered. You see it at the very top, with a former client of The Royal and a peer facilitator with Women’s Mental Health now a member of the board of trustees. You see it in the deliberate integration of the client voice at all levels, from the research side to the bedside.  And you see it in the game-changing team-based approach to care that will accelerate access by providing the right level of care to clients when and where they need it.

“The future is now.” - Joanne Bezzubetz, President & CEO, The RoyalAs full-fledged members of The Royal team, clients and their families are truly contributors to their care, not just receivers of that care. At a recent Client and Family Forum, The Royal’s CEO and Board Chair, alongside the chairs of The Royal’s Client and Family Advisory Councils unveiled details of The Royal’s new client and family-centered model of care to seek feedback from those who are impacted most – clients and families. “In our plan, care will not be based on an individual’s diagnosis but organized around their needs as whole people living with mental illness – our new integrated care and research streams will consider the biological, psychological, social and spiritual facets of the individual. Clients and families will also be provided with robust access, navigation and peer support along their client journey to enable them to live their best lives,” says Joanne Bezzubetz, PhD, President and CEO of The Royal.

Client and family integration, along with a model of team-based care, reflects a major shift in health care overall at The Royal since the launch of The Royal’s five-year strategic plan Co-Creating Access, Hope and New Possibilities. This major shift will position The Royal as a national leader in how mental health care should be delivered. It also highlights and upholds the deep respect and appreciation for people who are on the receiving end of that care, and their families.

“This deep respect and appreciation,” says Anne Graham, Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Royal “was the driver behind the five-year strategy and the roadmap that will guide clinicians, researchers and allied health professionals in ensuring that clients and families are involved in and at the centre of their care every step of the way — from diagnosis, to treatment, to transitioning back into the community.” 

To get it right, of course, meant it was crucial to involve clients and families in the strategic planning process. Their voices resonate throughout the plan, whose primary principle is the value of their lived expertise. “Our plan recognizes the lived experiences of clients and families and the valuable roles they play as members of the care team. When clients and families are meaningfully engaged in the care that is being provided, we see better outcomes and higher-quality care experiences,” added Bezzubetz. 

The chairs of the Client and Family Advisory Councils applaud the new shoulder-to-shoulder approach. 

Glenda O’Hara, chair of the Client Advisory Council says it’s about giving clients and families the opportunity to have meaningful input on decisions that affect clients from a clinical and organizational standpoint. The new model, she says, underscores the fact that The Royal is recognizing the value that people who are on the receiving end of care, and their families, can give the care delivery process. As a client with lived experience, O’Hara is excited at the prospects of involving clients in their care path. “Clients don’t want decisions made for them, without them,” she says.

The culture change that O’Hara already sees happening from the top down is cause for hope. “As a client, it has been incredibly fulfilling to see something that you brought up as a quality improvement be put into action.”

Michèle Langlois, chair of the Family Advisory Council, views this ‘bottom-up’ approach as a true collaboration. “Engaging clients and families at every level — in direct care, research, policy and education paves the way for hopeful, positive and responsive client and family care experiences,” she says.

“Working shoulder to shoulder with clients and families, we know we are on the path towards a brighter and meaningful future, - and the future is here,” says Bezzubetz.