St. Joseph’s new mental health buildings represent hope, respect and recovery

When the shovel hit the ground this spring for St. Joseph’s new mental health buildings, the soil was turning on a new era. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Dave Crockett, vice president, facilities planning at St. Joseph’s Health Care, London.

Currently St. Joseph’s mental health patients receive care in one of two buildings; Regional Mental Health Care (RMHC) London, built in the mid-1960s, or RMHC St. Thomas, which dates back to the late 1930s. “These two new facilities are being built using the latest research to create a healing environment, optimize natural light, and ensure friendly, comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces for patients, staff , visitors and our community,” says Crockett.

Journey to Recovery

The groundbreaking in early spring with InfrastructureOntario, government dignitaries, community leaders, donors, patients and staff celebrated years of work by hundreds of people who contributed to the planning of these new dignified, responsive care environments for inpatients and outpatients.

As patients progress in their recovery, they also journey though the specially-designed facility, developing skills and confidence needed to return to community living. As part of the rehabilitation process, the patient moves from his or her own private areas to a “neighbourhood,” where interaction with others is nurtured, and then to a community-like setting in the “downtown” area of the facility. The buildings help propelSt. Joseph’s recovery model of care by supporting the patient’s transition and journey to recovery.

“These new spaces will help to promote individualized care plans as well as support our philosophy of care—psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR),” says explains Sandra Fisman chief of psychiatry atSt. Joseph’s. “PSR is about promoting individual healing that is rooted in personal goals, family involvement, support and community interaction. PSR enables people with mental illness to lead full, meaningful lives while coping with a mental illness.”

The buildings also were designed to aid recovery with natural light flooding most areas and the use of calming colours and textures to create healing environments. “There’s a strong focus on personal space, patient and staff safety, as well as respecting the privacy of all people while providing quiet reflection areas and places to gather with family, friends and visitors,” says Brian Waltham, senior vice president and area manager of Ellis Don,SW Ontario.

At the same time, the buildings will be environmentally friendly, earning St. Joseph’s top honours for the latest in energy efficiency and environmental design.There’s a singular vision for the two facilities —providing the best patient care experience possible, says Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s.

“At St. Joseph’s, we are dedicated to patients, it’s our life’s work and these new buildings will help to provide dignity, comfort and a life affirming environment as patients journey toward recovery.”

Hope, respect, personal development and recovery are paramount to patients, and these buildings will help embrace the positive change that can be made for a person living with a mental illness.