Everything’s coming up sunflowers for Janice Potter (above) – a Family Advisory Committee member and Partner Advisor. Potter is pleased the new MHSU team site reflects much of the input provided by clients and families during the re-development journey. The sunflower mural, a point of familiarity for clients, has also found a new home at the Alderbridge site.

New MHSU team site speaks “respect and importance”

The first time Janice Potter walked through the doors at 7671 Alderbridge Way, she felt a sense of pride.

“I was extremely proud of the execution of our vision, and inclusion of the sunflower mural, from the old site, that was there to welcome us inside,” said Potter, of the new home for the Richmond Adult and Older Adult Mental Health Teams, and the Anne Vogel Clinic, that opened June 6.

Beyond first impressions, Potter who, as a Family Advisory Committee Member and Partner Advisor, participated in the Alderbridge Way project said the new site represents so much more than what you can see on the surface.

“It made us feel important and respected because it’s been designed especially for us,” said Potter.“Although the office has security features, they are less obvious. For starters, nobody is peering down on you from behind a wall of glass, and that just makes the whole experience of coming here for treatment less intimidating. And the parking…it’s so much easier than at the old office.”

Potter is impressed, too, with the new waiting area which features space for people to talk or just be alone. “There was no way to remove yourself from others in the old waiting room, and it is connected to the office space in a way that clinicians can come out from their offices to greet their clients.

“It’s just a huge improvement, and very welcoming,” Potter said.

Changing community needs

The Mental Health and Substance Use programs delivered at Alderbridge will benefit from a modern care environment that reflects current space planning, safety and infection control standards and guidelines.

The building and location offers improved access for clients with physical disabilities. Additionally, the new site reflects the steady growth in the Richmond population and the increasing demand for MHSU services. The relocation journey took the better part of two years.

At the start of the relocation process, VCH’s Community Engagement group hosted session in spring 2016. Clients, stakeholders and staff who attended shared many good ideas and interesting perspectives about the form and function of the new team space.

At other multiple points further along in the process, client and family members were engaged again, from providing input on space planning to determining the layout of the interview rooms. Clients, psychiatrists and clinicians met as a group and discussed how to arrange the furniture to provide seating options that felt safe and welcoming.

Client and family input

Since the beginning of the relocation process in 2015, client and family voices have been key in planning for the new site.

Clients and family members were engaged throughout the design and move processes, both for the interim location on Cedarbridge Way, and the new long-term site at Alderbridge. Input was obtained through community engagement sessions as well as participation on the project working group. In addition, partner advisors were asked to give specific feedback on key elements related to safety and the layout of clinical spaces.

Bringing teams together to enhance care

Co-locating primary care substance use services with the mental health teams means clients with complex mental health and substance use needs can access the care they require from a single service location. Additionally, care providers can collaborate in service delivery while sharing knowledge and expertise.

The site is also home to the Richmond Consumer and Friends Society, improving the accessibility of peer support and rehabilitation programming.

A job well done

“Clients, families, staff and physicians have actively participated in the design and move process. They have been integral to achieving a successful outcome while seamlessly supporting client care.,” said Natalie McCarthy, director, Mental Health & Substance Use and Residential Care Services. “The new site reflects their hard work, continued focus on person and family-centred care ‎and VCH’s commitment to environments that promote well-being for clients and providers.”

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