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Because your voice matters.

Patient Partner, Improving Care for Patients Under the Mental Health Act



Commitment: Long-term

Connection method: Virtual

Open to Provincial Region


Volunteer Opportunity
The Cowichan District Hospital Emergency Department care team wants to hear from patients, and their friends and family, from across BC who have experienced seclusion in the Emergency Department due to a psychiatric emergency. We want to learn how we can improve our services and improve the patient quality of care for those with mental illness.


Lead Organization/Department
Cowichan District Hospital, Emergency Department, Island Health

The Cowichan District Hospital Emergency Department care team aims to reduce the time patients in the Cowichan District Hospital spend in locked seclusion (under the Mental Health Act) when experiencing a psychiatric emergency. People with lived and living experience have valuable insights into how their experience could be improved.

Patient partners would be asked to:
• Meet one on one virtually with a project team member for a consultation interview for a single, one hour session.
• Share their experience, or the experience of a friend or family member, who have received psychiatric emergency care, specifically related to seclusion in the emergency department.
• Share their thoughts on how their experience could have been improved.

Health care partners working on this project will:
• Listen to and acknowledge patient partners ideas and concerns.
• At a future date, provide feedback on how patient partners input affected the outcomes of the project.
• Provide information before the one on one virtual consultation interview to prepare the patient partners.
• Provide information on supports and services for after the one on one virtual consultation interview to manage strong feelings that may arise from speaking about patient experiences.

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: The Province of BC
• Must be 19 years or older
• Experience being in locked seclusion in an emergency department in the province of BC during a psychiatric emergency:
– Or a family member or close friend of an adult who has been in locked seclusion during a psychiatric emergency
• Patient partners have a plan in place and access to supports to manage the difficult feelings that may arise after having spoken to the project team member about their personal patient experiences.
The most significant risk for patient partners is the emotional distress of reflecting on what, for many, is a traumatic experience. There is risk in providing feedback which could be triggering, bring up intense, difficult emotions, or trauma related symptoms, including flashbacks. Please only consider participating if you feel you are in a place of sufficient stability to provide this feedback.

• 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 Volunteer Agreement. 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: 4-6
• Date/Time: Individual interviews will be scheduled with times available in late January or into February 2022
• Location: Virtually, using Zoom
• Commitment: One single, one hour interview.

This opportunity will be virtual with no anticipated expenses. We acknowledge that this would require a time commitment of up to 1 hour per patient partner and we would be grateful to those who have the ability to donate an hour of their time. Currently we do not have a budget to support any financial compensation for participation in this project.

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.

Patients spend prolonged periods of time in seclusion in the Cowichan District Hospital Emergency Department, under the Mental Health Act. This is traumatic and dehumanizing. Our team of nurses, doctors and a quality improvement specialist want to improve the patient experience when people are experiencing a psychiatric emergency. The goal of this project team is to explore things that made the experience of being in seclusion in the emergency department more tolerable, as well as what could be improved.

We hope to hear from patient partners about the experience of seclusion, rather than other aspects of care. This is a quality improvement project to improve the care for future patients suffering from psychiatric emergencies. The most significant risk is the emotional distress of reflecting on what, for many, is a traumatic experience. There is risk in providing feedback which could be triggering, bring up intense, difficult emotions, or trauma related symptoms, including flashbacks. Please only consider participating if you feel you are in a place of sufficient stability to provide this feedback.

We are hoping to record audio without any identifying information from the one on one interviews to allow for transcription of the interview to ensure that all feedback is accurately captured. Our team is hoping to publish the results of the project in a medical journal to help raise awareness of how seclusion impacts patients and how the use of seclusion can be reduced. As per Island Health ethic standards, and only after ethics approval: any direct quotes would be anonymous; the audio recordings would be stored in a secure manner until transcribed and subsequently destroyed; feedback will be aggregated and anonymized; no identifying information will be included.

The interview would take place with one project team member to create greater safety for the patient partners. The non-identifying interview information will be shared with members of the team who all work within Island Health and your confidentiality and privacy will be maintained. Our team will send out updates to participants about how their feedback has been incorporated into emergency department education and workflow no later than August 2022. Currently this would be a one-time consultation process given that the project ends in August 2022.

Engagement Leader Contact Information

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

From Our Community

Christine Wallsworth

Patient Partner, Vancouver

Christine Wallsworth

Patient and family partners should not be a check box on research proposals! They need to be involved right from the start. I know patient and family partners are doing their part by providing their knowledge to researchers from their lived experience.  It’s a win-win for us to work together through PVN to make sure our input drives improvements.