Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Patient's Charter of Rights

Throughout the 1990's, the volunteer association at Riverview continued to work hard. They helped to improve the quality of life for the residents of Riverview and even helped when the patients were discharged.

The Tea House, the Deli Training Program, the Post Office and the Tuck Shop were all run by volunteers, as were the fundraising events like the Strawberry Tea and Fashion Show and Casino night.

The team at Riverview became known for their readiness to share their expertise with the fledgling mental health care units in the community. Many of the staff transferred to the community based facilities. Their focus was on providing compassionate care for the patents.

This multi-disciplinary approach was entrenched at Riverview by the 1990's. There was increased cooperation between medical staff, nurses, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and others, ensuring the best care possible for the patients.

“One of the biggest advances was when we started to work more closely in teams. In the early days, there was a rivalry between the different disciplines. Nurses, occupational therapists, recreational therapists—were a bit competitive with each other. The team approach evolved over time, and it worked very well.” 

Fred Bennett Nursing staff member 1961-2003

During this decade, the approach to patient care was evolving. In 1988, patients in mental institutions won the right to vote in national elections and it was becoming more and more apparent that patients should have more of a say in how they were treated.

The provincial Ombudsman conducted and 18-month investigation in 1993/94. They were looking into administrative fairness in response to concerns voiced by patients, families and community advocates. The final report, Listening, a Review of Riverview Hospital emphasized the need for the hospital to listen to patients and be accountable to those it serves. The report concluded:

“Riverview Hospital has not had in place the kind of comprehensive, receptive and fair mechanism for responding to concerns about its service that must exist in a psychiatric hospital.”

There were 94 recommendations laid out by the Ombudsman's report. These included the appointment of a Mental Health advocate and increased patients' rights in a number of areas. Many of the recommendations were adopted in a short time such as the development of a Patient's Sexuality Policy and a Charter of Patient's Rights. Riverview was the first psychiatric hospital in Canada to initiate such programs.

The Charter of Patient's Rights was created by a Joint Task Force made up of patients, staff and community advocates. This was a ground- breaking initiative that focused on three main areas: Quality of Life/Social Rights, Quality of Care/ Therapeutic and Self-Determination/ Legal Rights.

“The Charter compelled a lot of people to look at patients in a more humanitarian way. For instance, Crease Clinic had people in wards with windows that looked out over the highway and the railway. We’d think, how can anyone possibly sleep in those rooms with all that noise? So we included a clause in the Charter about having a restful sleeping area. And steps were taken to make sure there was a more restful place for people to sleep.”

Val Adolph Chair of the Joint Task Force and Director of Volunteers at Riverview, 1990-94

Thanks to the PDF, Riverview, A Legacy of Care and Compassion for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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