Strategic Priorities

Innovating Together

Select one of the Strategic Priorities below to learn more.


Strategic Goal: We will mobilize everyone at St. Joseph’s as part of a collaborative force for continual innovation, research and learning, driven by patient-centred needs. There will be an embedded expectation that improving what we know about our work and its effectiveness is part of everyone’s job in a thriving environment for innovation.

What We Heard from Stakeholders

There were strong themes of innovation, education/learning and research that arose in multiple engagement sessions from many different participants.

We heard from participants that everyone who works at St. Joseph’s should play a role in continuous innovation, knowledge development and learning. As a result, they see innovation and improvement in everyone’s job description. In keeping with that, they would like everyone at St. Joseph’s to embed the question, “How could this be done better?” in their work, and all innovation work to include the question, “Is this informed by the patient experience and what patients, residents and family caregivers value?” To nurture this, participants would welcome an internal hub for innovation, research and learning that would provide access to skills and resources needed to generate research questions, build practice-based programs, and strengthen the capacity for innovation and adoption of new knowledge and leading practices.

Continuing with the theme of education/learning, participants encouraged St. Joseph’s to strengthen partnerships with academic institutions, industry and disruptors to ensure and evaluate care that best supports patients for quality of health and life, and deepen the role that we have across the region to become a key knowledge developer, disseminator and capacity builder. As part of this work, participants advised St. Joseph’s to grow our capacity to teach unique models of interprofessional, whole person, connected care to prepare the health care providers of the future. In addition, they advocated for the co-creation of useful, accessible knowledge and information resources for patients, residents, family caregivers and community partners.

With respect to research, participants saw a role for patients, residents and family caregivers in this area whereby every patient at St. Joseph’s, through Lawson Health Research Institute, could be invited to contribute their data for research, continuous improvement and knowledge development, and there could be more opportunities for patients, residents and family caregivers to engage in research.

We also heard about the importance of partnering with donors to enhance both research and innovation.

What we will
accomplish By 2021
  • Our patients, residents and family caregivers and community members will be active partners in research and quality improvement efforts.
  • We will redesign and enhance the existing infrastructure to foster research and innovation that provides access to skills and resources needed to generate research/innovation questions, and build practice-based research and innovation programs.
  • We will build on our research and further develop and teach boundary-pushing models of specialized ambulatory care and complex recovery and rehabilitation.

It's okay to ask for help

Struggling with persistent thoughts of suicide, a young woman in the care of psychiatrist Dr. Sandra Northcott was at risk of harming herself. She had been hospitalized multiple times for prolonged periods due to mental illness and was struggling to cope.

“We will keep you safe,” Dr. Northcott told her. “We will look after you until you are able to look after yourself. I know you’re not feeling strong right now and that is okay. I just need you to be brave.”

One of the leading causes of death in Canada, suicide is often intertwined with mental illness. In fact, many individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts often reach out for help from a mental health care provider before ultimately deciding to end their lives.

“That tells us there are gaps we need to fill across our health care system,” says Dr. Northcott, Site Chief of St. Joseph’s mental health care program. “We had to become part of the solution.”

Stepping up to the plate, St. Joseph’s mental health program has become the first in Canada to implement the Zero Suicide initiative. Underway at Parkwood Institute and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care, the program standardizes how often patients are asked about thoughts of suicide, educates staff on how to have those meaningful conversations, helps patients make coping plans, and generally wraps care around the individual so that fewer people fall through gaps in their care journey, says Jodi Younger, Vice President of patient care and quality at St. Joseph’s.

Today, the young woman Dr. Northcott cared for during a difficult phase of her life is in a much better place. As a gesture of appreciation, the grateful patient painted two art pieces that hang in Dr. Northcott’s treatment office to provide hope and assurance to others. Both paintings reflect the physician’s gentle words of encouragement when she needed them most.

“You will not always be strong, but you can always be brave,” and “It’s okay to ask for help.”

Setting a bold goal in suicide prevention

The Zero Suicide program at St. Joseph’s sets a bold goal of reducing suicides and attempted suicides. Through Zero Suicide, every individual is offered tailored suicide prevention strategies, a full risk assessment that looks at the patient’s lifetime history of suicidal thoughts or actions, and, if needed, a safety plan. With their health care provider, each patient identifies situations that might cause stress, healthy behaviours to help them cope, and who they can call or where to go when in need of support.

In addition, within 24 hours of discharge from an inpatient stay, each patient receives a caring call from the outpatient team to schedule a follow-up appointment and every outpatient is asked about their risk of suicide at every visit.

Psychiatrist Dr. Sandra Northcott looking at a painting with inspiring words
The Zero Suicide initiative is funded entirely through generous donations to St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation.

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