Every Voice Counts

North East Community Care Access Centre

Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) play a pivotal role in Ontario’s health care system. There are 14 CCACs strategically located throughout the province and all provide a single point of access to home and community care and school health services, facilitate placement into long-term care homes, and provide information and referral to a broad range of community-based health programs and services.

They share a common mission: “to deliver a seamless experience through the health system for people in our diverse communities, providing equitable access, individualized care coordination and quality health care.”

At the North East CCAC, over 600 employees provide care to more than 16,000 Northeastern Ontario residents on any given day. A multi-disciplinary team of nurses, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, social workers, registered dietitians, occupational therapists, and speech therapists work together to provide “patients and their families with the right care, in the right place, at the right time.” Every patient counts at the North East CCAC, and the dedicated care coordination and clinical teams focus on developing a specially tailored care plan to meet individual needs. The organization’s vision statement summarizes its commitment best: “Outstanding care – every person, every day.”

Funded and legislated by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the North East CCAC provides services within a large and challenging geographical area – from the James Bay Coast to the north, Parry Sound to the south, Mattawa to the east, and Wawa to the west. The CCAC maintains six branch offices in Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Kirkland Lake, and Parry Sound, as well as 15 satellite sites and 10 in-hospital offices.

Indeed, the North East CCAC is making a real difference in people’s lives, but Chief Executive Officer, Richard Joly says it’s due to the collaborative relationship they have developed with their community health partners. “We’ve worked with our acute care providers to get patients home from hospital as soon as possible. For people awaiting long-term placement for example, there’s no reason they can’t receive support at home. The good news is, sometimes patients return home and realize that they don’t need long-term care. We’re helping more and more individuals with complex needs to live safely and independently at home. Five to 10 years ago, these same people would have had no other option than long-term care.”

Richard Joly is a CEO on a mission. A registered nurse by profession, Richard leads the North East CCAC by example, with dedication and focus. Armed with an MBA from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and a history of successfully managing both for-profit and non-profit organizations, Richard is applying strategies and business concepts more likely seen in the world of commerce.

“The North East CCAC is moving toward a positive culture shift, guided by a new and innovative change model,” Mr. Joly states. Employees at all levels have been engaged in the ‘revamp,’ and the entire team has played an active role in its implementation. “Our journey began over two years ago, when different staff teams were brought together to review, discuss and suggest renewed values for the organization,” Mr. Joly reports. “The discussion was spread over several sessions, and the final five values and corresponding criteria were written and ‘owned’ by all employees.” These values – excellence, compassion, accountability, collaboration, and trust – received board approval in April 2012 and have spawned an internal awards program for staff demonstrating how they are ‘living our values.’

To continue that emphasis on recognizing success and encouraging achievement every day, the Communications team at the North East CCAC produced a vocational calendar, “celebrating frontline employees and the value of their respective professions,” Mr. Joly says. Featuring a different staff member each month and distributed to all 600+ employees, “the Christmas gift was a year-long reminder of the importance of making every voice count.”

In early 2013, Mr. Joly and his Executive team turned their focus to the CCAC’s corporate structure to see whether it truly reflected their new evolving culture. It didn’t. So once again, discussions began at all levels of the organization to determine what structure would best support the organization moving forward.

The result was a sharpened focus on the CCAC’s core mandate – to provide care coordination and clinical support to patients in Northeastern Ontario. The organizational structure was redesigned around these two core portfolios, with the support of three others – corporate services, quality and information services, and strategic engagement.

Another key element in the ongoing culture change at the North East CCAC is its adoption of a “learning organization” model. MIT Professor Peter Senge originated the concept and popularized it in his bestselling book ‘The Fifth Discipline.’ “Although the delivery of home and community health care services presents a different challenge from that of companies cited in much of the literature, the principles of empowerment, equity, trust, collaboration and teamwork are valid in any organization,” Mr. Joly points out in ‘Leading for the Future – Unleashing Human Potential through Innovation,’ a document that details the organization’s cultural transformation.

“I believe that bureaucratic management must be replaced with coaching and mentoring,” Mr. Joly says, “so that employees are empowered to make a difference regardless of their role within the organization. There will always be a need for policies and procedures in health care, but in many non-clinical situations, directives can be replaced with guidelines, so that actions and decisions are based on best practices and not on arbitrary – and at times irrelevant – rules.”

The result is a culture that encourages employees to think outside the box and speak up when they believe that they have an idea for improvement. Sometimes this means encouraging staff to step outside of their comfort zone. “We don’t want people to be afraid to fail,” Mr. Joly says. “We are creating a no blame culture, where every new idea is considered, and where ‘every voice counts.’ Our goal is continuous quality improvement for the benefit of our patients and families.”

Leadership may not come naturally to everyone, so the CCAC has just launched a comprehensive, multi-tiered leadership development program, designed to develop leaders “in all areas and all levels of the organization.”

“Developing leaders is a key element in our action plan toward a revitalized corporate culture and an engaged, healthy workforce,” Mr. Joly explains. The Leadership Development Program will offer something for everyone, from introductory online leadership courses to coaching and mentoring to a national health designation offered through the Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL).

Clearly, Richard Joly leads by example. He currently holds a Certified Health Executive (CHE) designation with the CCHL and serves as Chair of the College’s NEON Lights Chapter. He has also been recently nominated for the prestigious CCHL Nursing Leadership Award, which recognizes ongoing commitment to quality and leadership in nursing.

“I am so proud of how far we have come as an organization in just the past two years,” he says. “Our senior team has adopted a mantra of ‘Listen, Learn and Lead’ and re-dedicated themselves to the concept of ‘every voice counts’ within and across portfolios. Our Directors and Specialists have redefined their role and developed a statement of purpose that recognizes and confirms that leaders can be found at all levels of the organization.”

But this is only the beginning, Mr. Joly admits. “Just this week I met with members of the newly formed Culture Change Advisory Council, 30 employees from all levels of the organization, whose sole purpose is to provide advice and counsel from a frontline perspective and to ensure that every voice continues to count at the North East CCAC. There is a new momentum to our culture change efforts that cannot be stopped. I am excited for the future.”

August 16, 2017, 7:37 PM EDT

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