Building Strong Teams to Better Serve the Community
AVH looks at the 'big picture' to support people and communities to be healthy over the long term.
Written by Alexandra Stadnyk
Produced by Rey Mendoza
"What we have worked on at Annapolis Valley Health is putting leadership principles in place that enable employees to become exemplary leaders," explains Tricia Cochrane, vice president of community health and continuing care at Annapolis Valley District Health Authority. AVH governs, plans, manages, delivers and monitors health services within the Annapolis Valley health district in Nova Scotia.
After an operational review of the health care system in Nova Scotia, the Department of Health and Wellness, working collaboratively with the District Health Authorities, including AVH, began to transform the province's healthcare system. Nova Scotia has embarked on this transformation to help people stay healthy, address the changing needs of seniors, support health professionals, and invest for better results. This work reflects and supports the vision AVH has been striving towards.
In response to the provincial plan to transform health care in the east coast province, President and Chief Executive Officer, Janet Knox--a former university educator--has been putting a plan in place to build strong teams within AVH.
She has been leading the organization's change in culture by, what she calls, simply focusing on people and the community. "Anyone who works here has an important role to play. We want people to understand that," she says. Knox adds that the executive management team began developing a framework which started with a leadership team to enable others to realize their potential to lead and she hopes this interest will cascade down through the rest of the health Authority. In addition, AVH has initiaited development of workshops and interdisciplinary teams to bring employees together to find ways to better serve the health of the community made up of Kings and Annapolis Counties.
"We are putting a lot of time and effort into the building of a healthy organization and focusing on people who receive our services, and deliver our services," she adds. AVH has introduced a new leadership model to engage employees and create a healthy workplace. AVH has adopted the Kouzes and Posners Leadership Model, based on the belief that leadership isn't about a certain personality, but about behaviour. This has been integrated into leadership development through succession planning program, mentorship program, professional, performance and learning development, and the recruitment process.
Putting Kouzes and Posners theory to practice AVH's 5 leading principles that are followed through the organization include:
- Model the Way
- Inspiring a Shared Vision
- Challenging the Process
- Enabling Others to Act
- Encouraging the Heart
According to Sheila Rankin, vice-president of people and organizational development, AVH has implemented a plan that brings together those who have a goal or common population to serve. For example, AVH has brought together players who support seniors including social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, physicians and nurses to support seniors to be healthy. AVH's role as a facilitator, or supporting partner to other healthcare organizations, is meant to make healthcare inclusive and involve community members.
Health of the Population
Home to approximately 82,000 people, or 9 percent of the population of Nova Scotia, AVH has introduced a population health approach that looks at the "big picture" or the broad socio-economic environment influencing health outcomes and lifestyle choices.
Using this model, AVH has adopted this policy in hopes of looking at the health system from a preventative approach to serve the community better over the long term. Considering and incorporating the many determinants that shape the overall health of Annapolis Valley's population including: income and social status, social support networks, education, employment and working conditions, physical and social environments, biology and genetic endowment, personal health practices and coping skills, healthy child development, health services, gender and culture, AVH has worked to put structures in place that look at health from a demographic approach.
"We are trying to create a type of culture within the community that builds the capacity and encourages people to be responsible for their own health from a population health perspective," says Cochrane. "AVH is on a journey to build programs and services that support people and communities to be healthy. A population health policy has been adopted to guide our organization in integrating health promotion, prevention, care and treatment."
As AVH continues to carry out the strategic plan for the future, the organization hopes to continue building and strengthening its partnerships and engaging the orgnaizational structure to foster better support and coordination of care to the people of the Annapolis Valley. "In the future, the focus will continue to be on rethinking what is happening in health care and rethinking what is care of the whole person," says Rankin. "We will continue our journey of carrying out a holistic approach to caring for individuals, families, and communities. And, I think it is on our interest to be involved in the communities we serve because that is where health happens."