Talking about Collaborative Care

Once a year the staff of Klinic come together to talk about issues that are important to our work. Last year we focused on communication and connections, this year we moved forward on another major goal: expanding how we work collaboratively across the organization.   Though collaboration is clearly important to us, and a part of the work Klinic staff do every day, developing processes to enhance collaboration across Klinic can be complex due to our size and range of programming. Just getting most of us in the same room requires a year of planning! With close to 200 staff and almost an equal amount of volunteers working actively in Klinic, keeping us all connected is not easy. To be committed to collaborative care, one of our core values under responsiveness, we need to make time to sit and talk about what this really means to our organization.

In recent years the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) has had an increased focus on collaborative care, which it defines on their website:

Collaborative Care is when several health providers work together with patients/residents/clients, their families, caregivers and communities to provide high quality care. It involves engaging any health provider whose expertise can help improve the patient/resident/client’s health. When health providers collaborate, new possibilities exist that were not there before.

The WRHA website has some great tools and definitions on what are the core competencies of inter-professional collaboration and how to support collaborative teams. That is why we called on these resources and utilized Carol Schaap as our facilitator for the day. Carol works in the Primary Health Care Program and spends part of her time assisting facilitation for inter-professional collaboration.   In preparing for this session, we spent a great deal of time talking to Carol about the complexities of Klinic, including our large counselling and crisis programs, community education services and our various mandates, both local and provincial. All of these things and more can help make us a little different than traditional inter-professional teams.

Though the day was long, it was truly impressive to see how Klinic staff came together to talk about what we value as a team when we are working collaboratively, and how we can continue to improve at this.   The values that were discussed to help frame our guiding principles included concepts I think many of us see as foundational to Klinic; respect and valuing diversity of opinions. We had tough discussions too: what do we do when we do not agree? How do we deal with clashes of values? How do we decide which programs to support? Having these conversations as an organization are key to building strong teams, but they are not easy.

In the coming weeks we will take what we learned from this day and start to develop both a guiding principles document and an action plan for collaboration as an organization. I look forward to the opportunity to re-engage our staff, and our board of directors, in developing a clear plan to ensure that these principles become truly a part of business as usual.

At Klinic, Just Care for Everyone also means working together across our organization to provide the best possible care to our clients and communities, and we just get better and better!