Changing the perception of mental healthcare

Earlier this year, I stood on the front of a large piece of heavy construction machinery with the Providence Care Board Chair as we marked the groundbreaking of our new hospital redevelopment project.  It was an exciting moment – we are now building a facility that will benefit patients and their families from across southeastern Ontario.

When it opens in 2017, Providence Care Hospital will be one of the first in North America to combine long- term, specialized mental health services in the same building as complex care and rehabilitation. Right now, we provide these services at two different hospital sites.

Historically, psychiatric hospitals in Ontario have been built and operated separate from other hospital programs. However, more and more, we are seeing commonalities between patients seeking these services, particularly as care is delivered through an interprofessional team approach.  Seniors diagnosed with dementia also rely on physical rehabilitation services, and just as individuals who have experienced a significant injury may also require mental healthcare. Psychiatric hospitals have also been stereotyped as very institutional and disconnected from the rest of the community. The new Providence Care Hospital will help change the perceptions around mental health and how care is provided.

Providence Care Hospital will bring to life the concept of patient-centred care, where services are not siloed in separate facilities but instead are working in collaboration to meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of each person.


In our new building, patients, clients and families will use the same entrance, there are spaces for informal and formal gatherings, and inpatient rooms and units are designed to be consistent – no matter what services are being provided.

We’re committed to welcoming all people – creating a homelike and person-centred care environment at Providence Care Hospital. One way we hope to do this is by designating spaces within the building to showcase artwork by people with lived experience of mental illness, and by rehabilitation or complex care patients.

I came to Providence Care this year, with a background of many years working in community care. There is a real shift in health care today toward ensuring that hospital stays are “transitions” and not a place for individuals to spend indefinite periods of time.


With this in mind, the Providence Care Hospital will support patients as they prepare to leave the hospital to return home to the community or alternate care setting. We have two trial discharge apartments (one located with a mental health inpatient unit, and another with a rehab unit) to support clients as they complete their hospital stay.

These elements reflect a shift in how mental health care is delivered in Canada: it is one part of the broader continuum of health services. Integrating mental health with complex medical care and physical rehabilitation is one way Providence Care is demonstrating its holistic, person-centred approach.  We meet the ‘physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs’ of each person – and in the process, we’re working to destigmatize mental health care in our community.