In an article published in the journal of the Provincial Group of Users’ Committees, Marie-Eve Bédard highlights the results of her doctoral thesis.
The article is structured around two objectives. The first is to define how users’ committees (UC) deal with situations of mistreatment. In other words, what actions are taken to correct or prevent them? The second objective is to review the scope and the limits of their actions in countering mistreatment.
To fulfill these two objectives, a subdivision of four (4) phases of the UC’s handling of situations of mistreatment are advanced – awareness of situations, analyzing them, bringing them to the attention of the appropriate authorities while advocating changes and finally, ensuring the implementation of these changes.
Awareness of Situations of Mistreatment
A diversity of ways to ensure awareness of situations of mistreatment can be deployed, for example, through formal mechanisms – ensuring a physical presence in UC offices, or by more informal means, personal (on-site) observation in healthcare institutions. The presence and deep-rooted connection of UC members in the health and social services sector are factors in detection. At the same time, an ignorance of their role by establishments’ authorities and personnel is an obstacle to awareness of such situations.
Analysis of situations of mistreatment
The documentation phase of situations of mistreatment is an opportunity for UC to enrich the content of the report submitted to the establishment’s authorities and also to initiate critical thinking on avenues of change so that such situations are not repeated in the future. User Committees record the frequency, gravity, and effects of situations on the life of the users – be they psychological, physical, social, or economic.
Reporting and advocating for change
Several means can be mobilized to initiate changes in these organizations: ‘(by submitting) reports to the governing board of the establishment or its management, notably by building a file of observations to send them, or directing a letter to them, by taking a position during meetings with the board (members of users’ committees hold a seat), by making recommendations in their annual reports or writing to the Commissioner of Complaints and Quality of Services.’ The UC also has the opportunity to support users in writing a complaint that will be sent to the Commissioner of Complaints and Quality of Services in their region.
Ensuring the implementation of changes
Listening and punctual with users and those close to them are ways to monitor the evolution of changes. Another means is to ‘maintain (all unresolved problems) on the agenda and continue discussions with the authorities concerned until they are corrected.’ These follow-ups are of the utmost importance since implementing changes takes time and the commitment of those in authority, as these changes are, by nature, organizational and structural.
To finish, a reading of the entire article is encouraged. It is available on the website of the Regroupement provincial des comités des usagers.