Waypoint responds to OPSEU media campaign
Waypoint responds to OPSEU media campaign
Posted on 07/05/2016
Waypoint is aware of the OPSEU Stay Safe Be Safe campaign that was launched on July 4 2016 and agrees that safety is paramount for both patients and staff. Safety is a priority in our Strategic Plan, and patient and staff safety is taken very seriously at the hospital. This campaign is another opportunity for us to have conversations about safety with everyone at Waypoint. 

We are aware of the issues brought forward and last Tuesday Waypoint’s senior staff and health and safety coordinator met with the Ministry of Labour to discuss health and safety. We are currently working through each item presented to respond with what we have in place, research best practices and determine where enhancements applicable to Waypoint should be considered.

The hospital’s commitment to ensuring safety, violence prevention and quality care led President and CEO Carol Lambie to participate at the provincial Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table and other Waypoint staff to sit at some of the working groups. 

While some enhancements have been made to the Atrium building, it was built for its purpose as a high secure hospital building that provides a therapeutic environment for patients and staff with state-of-the-art life safety technologies. Many things were considered for safety and security during the design and construction to achieve this, as well as comprehensive plans for training, orientation and the changes required to policies and staff procedures. 

There was a significant change from the old Oak Ridge building that had very little technology to a large technology system which includes state-of-the-art camera monitoring, electronic personal alarms, a fire safety system and multiple layers of building security. We have encountered challenges with the new technology during implementation and transition. These have been, or are being addressed through enhanced staff procedures, building improvements and technology upgrades.

Severe behaviours associated with mental illness are prevalent in our work and we have specialized safety procedures, treatment and care plans in place to support staff and patients in responding to risks. Workplace safety is embedded in our health and safety policies and regularly monitored and evaluated. Plans are in place across our hospital for employee safety whether it is on a unit or for individuals working more independently. All hospital programs participate in yearly workplace violence risk assessments, and regular safety huddles and discussions are conducted on all clinical programs.

In our efforts to talk about health and safety and workplace violence in mental health care, we also must consider our patients and their families and the ongoing need to stop the discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness. Mental health conditions with a range of symptoms and experiences affect at least one in five Canadians. This can very well be a neighbour, colleague, parent, grandparent, sibling, relative or yourself.

While Waypoint’s role includes serving some patients who have a history of violence, research shows the majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous or violent, and are more likely to be the victims of violence. Mental health care providers are working with thousands of people who are recovering from or managing their mental illness successfully, have never come into contact with the law, and are not dangerous or violent. 

Everyone who needs mental health and addiction care, like anyone with an illness, are deserving of treatment and our respect and compassion as patients and clients of the health care system. It is a fact that stigma and discrimination keeps people from seeking treatment, and every effort to increase understanding of mental illness must be made to ensure people reach out for support.

While we are all striving for a safe workplace across the hospital including the Atrium building, when there is an incident it commands our attention to support staff and implement any improvements required. On an ongoing basis the policies and processes that are in place provide a proactive approach to workplace safety. We are constantly monitoring workplace incidents and have experienced a year over year downward trend in lost time injury frequency (rate of injuries per 100 full time staff) and it is lower than our experience in the Oak Ridge building and comparable to the provincial health care rate group.

We are all committed to working together on ensuring staff and patient safety.