Coast Mental Health (BC)

  • Renay Bajkay, Director, Residential Services, Coast Mental Health, Vancouver, British Columbia

Improving Client Engagement and Care Through the Introduction of the Recovery Star

Coast Mental Health (CMH) transitioned from a grass roots non-profit organization to one of the largest mental health non-profits in British Columbia in a relatively short period of time. This process was very challenging and required many changes but, for the purposes of this improvement project, the implementation of a measurement tool (the Recovery Star (RS)) to deliver a set of client driven recovery based indicators meaningful to the client and the organization, was identified as an important priority. 

Given the challenge that at CMH change in size and programming has been significant and difficult, the first task was to review models of change to facilitate a successful implementation of the RS. The model selected was Kotters 8 Steps to Lead Change. This model is described as a "Psychological Model" and is highly relevant for CMH, as it speaks a similar language to the CMH context. The rationale was that if the staff could embrace the model of change, the implementation would be easier.

Secondly, measurement tools meeting the criteria listed above were researched and reviewed. It is well documented that outcome measures in mental health are heavily weighted towards the medical model and it was clear that these models would not be appropriate for the community based, recovery driven environment of CMH. Thus the RS was selected because it met the criteria of being client driven, recovery based and meaningful both to the client and organization.

The implementation process of the RS was heavily embedded in Kotters model. However, an accreditation process CMH was also undergoing (CMH as a non-profit, community based, mental health organization was one of the first to achieve accreditation in British Columbia) was thought to be important for successful implementation.

The results to date regarding the RS are encouraging, in relation both to positive client outcomes and staff satisfaction in using the tool. In community mental health there is very little data measuring client driven recovery. Thus the impact of the RS to other systems is significant as we demonstrate below that clients are very engaged in their own recovery and change is being measured. 

Measuring client outcomes is extremely important in the changing health care environment but in the environment in which CMH and other like organizations function, measuring these outcomes is challenging. The RS implementation process at CMH provides a useful model for similar organizations.