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Because your voice matters.

Interviewee, Addiction Outpatient Treatment Improvement Project

Posted • Last updated


Commitment: Short-term

Connection method: Virtual

Open to Provincial Region

Last updated

Volunteer Opportunity
Island Health is working to reduce wait-times and improve access to Addiction Outpatient Treatment  (counseling) for people with lived/living experience of substance use. We want to hear from patient partners across the province to better understand your, or a family member’s, patient journey and the impact caused by delays in access to treatment.


Lead Organization/Department

Island Health, Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) Addiction Medicine

People with lived/living experience of substance use who are seeking support, need that support and resources early in their recovery journey. Wait-times to access publicly funded counseling for substance use are currently very lengthy, and many people have relapsed or can’t be contacted by the time their appoitment comes up. We want to hear from patient partners who have had to wait for Addiction Outpatient Treatment (AOT) to:
• help health care partners better understand how delays in access to treatment can lead to poor outcomes for patients
• learn more about the patient journey and patient experience for those who have had to wait for treatment
• speak one-to-one with a health care partner for an interview to share their story and their health care journey.

Level of Engagement
This opportunity is at the level of consult on the spectrum of engagement. The promise to you is that the health care partner will listen to and acknowledge your ideas and concerns, and provide feedback on how your input affected the decision.

• Open to patient partners from: across the Province who:
• Have experience as a client, or a family member of a client, who has accessed Addiction Outpatient  Treatment (counselling) for substance use, and had to wait for these services.
• Are aged 19 years or older.
• Are comfortable sharing their personal health care journey with a health care partner for a one-to-one interview.
• Have access to a computer, and the internet for a Zoom interview or to partciapte via email, or have access to a telephone (for a phone interview).
• Patient partners give a lot of themselves: time, energy, and the sharing of personal stories or experiences that may be difficult. It is important that this not be done at the expense of your own health/wellbeing. There is a potential risk that patient partners may experience emotional distress through reflecting on and sharing their health care experience.  With this in mind, we ask that you only consider participating if you feel it would be safe and comfortable for you to do so.
• Please note:
– This opportunity, as with all Island Health patient engagement opportunities, is not open to Island Health staff members or patient partners who are currently employed by Island Health. If you have questions regarding this, please email
– The placement process for this opportunity may include an informal interview between the volunteer and the health care partner.
– Applicants must have previously attended a PVN orientation session and completed the Patient Partner Commitments form. If you have not attended an orientation session but you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Charmaine Niebergall directly to see if accommodations may be possible.
– As required by the October 14, 2021 Public Health Order released by the Provincial Health Officer, proof of vaccination is required to access any in-person meetings at an Island Health site. Proof of vaccination can be provided by way of a Vaccination Passport or Vaccination card, along with government issued photo ID. For patient partnership activities that are virtual only (via Zoom, video conference, phone, etc.), proof of vaccination is not required.

• Number of vacancies: 2
• Date/Time: to be determined, based on patient partner availability, approximately 1 hour.
• Location options include:
– Virtually using Zoom
– Using a phone for a telephone call
– By email to share their story in a written format
• Commitment: one time, one-to-one interview with a health care partner.

No out-of-pocket expenses are anticipated for this engagement opportunity. However, if you meet the eligibility criteria but have concerns about your ability to participate, please contact Charmaine Niebergall to see if support options are available. We are always seeking to better understand and reduce barriers to participation.

Addiction Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a community outpatient setting, offering services to adults 19+ who are struggling with substance use and do not require acute withdrawal management.

Wait-times to access outpatient substance use counseling services at Addiction Outpatient Treatment (AOT) have become unacceptably long, leading to complaints from patients and referring agents, as well as many clients lost-to-follow up by the time that they are eventually contacted. Support during early stages of change for substance use is important for retaining clients in treatment. The AOT team, in collaboration with the management/operational team, and patient partners, are initiating a series of interventions in order to reduce wait-times and improve access to counseling. This is critical in light of the ongoing opioid epidemic with increasing overdoses; and the uptake in pandemic-related lived/living experience of substance use.

Engagement Leader Contact Information

Charmaine Niebergall Engagement Leader, Patient & Public Engagement | Vancouver Island 778.700.2064

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