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Because your voice matters.

Member, Women’s Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Center Working Group

Posted • Last updated


Commitment: Long-term

Connection method: Virtual

Open to Vancouver Island Region

Last updated

Volunteer Opportunity
Help ensure the creation of a patient-centred, safe and effective substance use treatment service! Join Island Health’s Women’s Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Center Working Group and share your lived or living experience.


Lead Organization/Department
Island Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Services

Island Health is improving their substance use services by developing a women’s focused substance use treatment and recovery service. The goal is to support individuals identifying as women in their recovery from substance use challenges. Patient partners joining the working group will share their experience and expertise by providing input and feedback on how the new services will best meet the needs of patients. Specifically, patient partners will be asked to:
• attend a working group meeting 2 times per month, for 1 hour.
• review documents
• provide ideas and input into the service development process.

Level of Engagement
This opportunity is at the level of collaborate on the spectrum of engagement. The promise to you is that the health care partner will work together with you to formulate solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible.


• Open to patient partners from across the Vancouver Island region.
• Experience working in groups and comfortable sharing your personal health care journey.
• Have lived or living experience with substance use services.
• Identify as a woman.
• Comfortable using Zoom, have access to a computer, internet, and are comfortable with communications via email.
• 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:
– Meetings will be 1 hour on a weekday
– specific day and time scheduled with patient partner availability in mind
– 2 meetings per month
• Location: All meetings will be held on Zoom with the possibility of some in-person site tours in the future
• Commitment: 1 year

No out of pocket expenses are anticipated for this engagement opportunity. Should travel be required, all associated costs would be reimbursed. Additionally, this engagement opportunity will follow the Peer Payment Standards for Short Term Engagements. 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.

Island Health is developing it’s first substance use treatment and recovery centre, with a focus on women, transwomen, and non-binary individuals comfortable in a female-centred space. Including patient partners as key members of this working group, along with frontline staff, leadership and doctors, will help to ensure that people with lived and living experience with substance use have a direct opportunity to provide input, feedback and collaborate on service development. Patient partners will work alongside frontline staff, leadership and doctors to develop a women’s focused substance use treatment service.

There is a risk that material discussed during program development may trigger past negative experiences. Island Health will work to support your health and wellbeing, and ensure a trauma-informed approach is in place, including support through a monthly check-in meeting where patient partners are able to debrief, and provide ongoing feedback around how things are going. Key progress updates will be shared at working group meetings, and regular emails to all patient partners throughout their engagement. Additionally, after implementation patient partners will continue to be updated on progress until the retirement of the working group.

Health Care Partner Contact Information

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

From Our Community

Nancy J. Wood

Patient Partner, Sidney

Nancy J. Wood

I was thrilled to discover the Patient Voices Network, where the array of places to be the voice of a patient is vast and incredibly interesting. Besides my ongoing “gig” with the BC Emergency Medicine Network, I have enjoyed being involved in several one-off initiatives. I love working with professionals who genuinely value the perspectives of their patient partners.