First in Nunavik: Culturally-Relevant Recovery Centre Receives Qmentum Accreditation

August 23, 2019

Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre is the first Nunavik-based organization to receive the Qmentum accreditation. This award comes in time to celebrate their 25th anniversary of service.

Isuarsivik Qmentum

“It is a great feeling of accomplishment for our entire team to receive the Qmentum award and show that a remote community-based organization, led by a volunteer board and small management team, was able to achieve one of the highest awards out there,” exclaims Dave Forrest, Isuarsivik chairperson.

He adds that finding the right accreditation body was key.

“We went on a quest to find an entity that would understand the cultural aspect of our centre. We combine best practices with cultural practices in order to offer the best possible program.”

Isuarsivik is dedicated to offering culturally appropriate substance abuse counselling services to Inuit of Nunavik. They offer gender-specific in-patient programs of 42 days with Inuktituk material and speakers. Isuarsivik offers clinical treatment, of course, but also cultural and on-the-land activities, as well as elements of the harm reduction approach.

The Qmentum award means a lot to Executive Director, Alicia Aragutak.

“We’re proud to have achieved this recognition of our services, even though our format is outside the box. It means we’ve gained clarity beyond just at the management level, our programs are more inclusive, and through the experience, we’ve reconnected with our staff.”

Isuarsivik had received the accreditation Primer in 2017 and the organization was eager to take the next step.

“Implementing and achieving our Primer felt like common sense. This Qmentum level was more in-depth; it helped us get much clearer, benefit from a lot of structure and linkage. Personally, I felt overwhelmed in the beginning. We tend to do required operational practices naturally, but it was not a habit to document the steps and initiatives,” shares Aragutak.

Both the chairperson and executive director felt that the Qmentum level required more in-depth examination but didn’t require too many major changes from their Primer.

“This may have been heavier in terms of the process as there were more steps, but it ended up being easier to achieve than our first experience with accreditation. It is about the learning curve. Our routine feels natural and it’s about starting a new process and documenting it. Accreditation encourages you to formalize processes, for our safety and our guests’ safety,” says Aragutak.

The executive director insists on the importance of communication, and this has been her priority since stepping into her role.

“Accreditation helped us fully capture the importance of informing and engaging the whole team, not just managers. Everyone got involved in the process, and this fostered the staff’s ownership of best practices.”

Forrest and Aragutak share the belief that accreditation has not only supported Isuarsivik but has served their guests and families.

“It keeps us on our toes, and we continue on this voyage of quality improvement. It reassures us, our guests, and the region and country, that it is possible to operate a culturally-relevant centre while maintaining a high standard. And we’re the only health care facility in Nunavik with accreditation,” notes Forrest.

Aragutak adds that accountability, and safety for staff and guests, are also why accreditation matters.

“It validates our reputation and encourages community involvement. It captured that notion of cultural relevance, and I appreciated that. By achieving this standard, it proves that we give quality services to our community and ultimately, we’re taken more seriously.”

She also shares that accreditation requires that you allow vulnerability as an organization while being assessed; “to highlight areas needing attention, you have to let surveyors in to see your reality.”

Improvements were made on all levels, from front line to management.

“We were able to improve our governance and put an ethics framework in place. We had all these policies that weren’t necessarily applied, or not consistently. The process shifted our focus to implementation,” notes the executive director.

Dave Forrest shares that in order to keep quality improvement front of mind and an ongoing activity, the managerial staff went on a retreat to review the three-year strategic plan. For instance, the clinical supervisor established protocols around the intake process that would heighten client safety.

Alicia Aragutak felt that a big take-away was the role of communication structures and processes in providing quality care and safety.

“It’s a much bigger part than we thought! But it makes sense. Part of quality improvement is interacting with guests and families, and getting their input.”

“We have a communication strategy to engage staff, partners, and our community, through social media, radio, and small questionnaires. We already have a better understanding of what impressions are and we deliver services based on the needs of the region,” notes Aragutak.

Forrest shares that in order to better collaborate with guests and families, Isuarsivik has put in place client surveys.

“They receive one survey at the end of each session and we carefully analyze them to capture the overall impression. We are also looking into new modern ways to get in touch with them and their families. ,” he notes.

The executive director is proud that “everyone knows each other through names and faces.”

“We base our services on people who have been guests of ours, or who are even part of the board. Of course, guests go home and talk about us too, and then they return and participate. We’ve developed this context of closeness, in our small community,” she says.

From the centre’s perspective, families are directly involved in the aftercare plan.

“We prepare guests to be reintegrated into their realities and to communicate with their loved ones. Our organization fosters connection with culture and family,” notes Aragutak.

“We try not to sound institutional,” she adds.

Forrest expresses how beneficial the accreditation process was for Isuarsivik.

“We’re a stronger entity now. Our board had goosebumps; we knew this next step and this accrediting body were right for us. We were nervous entering the process and meeting the surveyors, but we were relieved to know we did well. We were also grateful that Accreditation Canada sent surveyors with First Nations ties, to better understand our cultural context.”

Isuarsivik is moving to a larger centre in 2021 and will be able to accommodate triple its annual guest capacity and enhance its services.

New Centre

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