Early in my career as an occupational therapist I worked in several mental health facilities in Kingston, focused on collaborative teamwork and client-centred care. I was also a faculty member in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s for over 20 years, which included 10 years as the Clinical Educator in the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice. These clinical and academic positions taught me a great deal about listening, acknowledging and partnering with people who had lived experience of health challenges, many of whom became patient mentors for healthcare students in several educational projects in which I was involved.
My personal experiences, as a patient diagnosed with sarcoidosis and the subject of invasive medical testing for other serious medical conditions, shaped my view of the healthcare system in both positive and negative ways. As a caregiver and advocate for many family members, my desire to offer constructive feedback to healthcare professionals and to be a positive agent of change within the healthcare system, was reinforced. Retirement afforded me the time to engage more fully in this process, and KHSC provided the opportunity to become a Patient Family Experience Advisor.
I am currently a member of the KHSC Patient Family Advisory Council and several mental health committees and working groups at the hospital and community levels including the KHSC Joint Mental Health Program Council and the KFL&A Moving on Mental Health Task Force. I feel that I have returned to my roots in mental health and am passionate about ongoing efforts to positively transform mental health services for patients, families and healthcare providers.