Coup de chapeau: Zosia Anders
— Partager l’expertise et mettre de l’avant l’initiative d’une équipe ou d’un individu œuvrant en centre désigné —
Zosia Anders is a psychiatric social worker who currently works at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). From 2016 to 2017, she did her MSW practicum at the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre at the CLSC Métro designated centre in Montréal.
During her practicum, Zosia created a tool to be given to sexual assault victims at the conclusion of a medico-social intervention. Entitled My wrap-up and self-care tool, it facilitates the transition from the initial medico-social interview and the clinical follow-up. It is also a guide that
the victim can consult during the coming days and weeks to better understand what was done during their first visit to the designated centre and what to expect during the next steps.
What prompted you to create this tool?
I started by observing my colleagues during medico-social interviews and discussing their actions with them. Then I led a brainstorming session to hear their observations on the practice of medico-social intervention and their ideas for potential improvement. Then, after having spoken with various victims, I identified a need. Since the interviews were long and often took place in the middle of the night when the victims were exhausted and their short-term memory was affected by their state of shock, I realized that it was unlikely that they would be able to retain the vast amount of information they had been given. During the interview, team members would give victims a big brown envelope full of photocopies, which wasn’t ideal because a lot of the information was very technical, and the documents were not visually attractive or even always legible. I thought it would be helpful to update and summarize them so that victims would be encouraged to read and retain all the valuable information they contained.
I focused on the transition between the end of the initial meeting, the victim’s leave of absence and their return to a daily routine. During my master’s studies, I used a feminist intersectional approach that encouraged victims to reclaim power over their lives. For that to happen, victims needed to be able to access information that would allow them to make informed decisions. That was when I decided that a written tool could help them reach those goals by giving them information on their health, the legal options that were available to them, upcoming appointments, the various tests that were done during the first meeting and what all that was for.
Could you tell us about one of the major challenges you had to face when you were developing the tool?
One of the biggest challenges was consulting the most diverse number of victims possible. Since designated centres are an unpredictable work environment, I didn’t know who would be included in my sample. I had to wait for people to come to the designated centre for help. Looking back, I would have liked to be able to meet with even more people in order to have a clearer, more precise idea of their needs at that stage of the intervention. Many different people use the services provided by designated centres: men, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. My sample was not representative of everyone who came to the centre.
Also, the fact that the tool was initially written in English and French meant that it was not accessible to everyone: victims who spoke neither French nor English couldn’t understand it. I told myself that in the best of all possible worlds, the tool would be translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Cree…. but that my efforts were just a starting point from which tools in other languages could be developed.
What were the success factors behind the creation of this tool?
I was fortunate to be working with a team that was openminded, experienced, helpful, collaborative, and ready to implement a clinical project. My colleagues could also see the potential sustainability of the tool. I think that calling on the services of a graphic designer also made a huge difference. My initial attempt at creating the tool was in Word with images that I had copied and pasted. It was not a thing of beauty!
What positive results did you observe once the tool had been implemented?
The members of the team found that it made it easier to conclude the initial intervention. I had the impression that it was reassuring for them in that it made them less worried that they might forget to provide certain information. Coralie Labelle, an emergency counsellor at the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, confirmed Zozia’s observations: “As a counsellor, it’s extremely helpful to have a visual support that explains where to go, how to contact us, and what steps are coming next. During emergency interventions, it’s useful to have all the information in the same place so that we can give victims a compact, comprehensive tool.”
If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?
If I had had the same encouragement and affirmation that I do now, I would have liked to talk to the entire multidisciplinary team. I would have had a discussion with doctors and nurses about their impressions at the end of the intervention. I also would have done more to solicit the input of the entire counselling team. I think they could have been more involved in developing the tool. But they’re so busy: they often have another full-time job or work nights, so I rarely saw them except at meetings. There might have been a way to draft a questionnaire to do a mini-survey of the counsellors alongside my research on sexual assault victims.
What advice would you give a member of a medico-social team in another region who is interested in using your tool as a basis for something similar in their designated centre?
Go for it! I think it’s important to take action. Don’t hesitate. We’re so caught up in the endless activity of our extremely demanding clinical functions that we tend to neglect the development aspect of our practice. Opportunities to develop a tool are rare, so I think it’s important to seize them when they occur. And it’s incredibly important to take the time to follow up, because that improves our practice, which further helps the victims: a win-win proposition!
To view Zozia’s My wrap-up andself-care tool too, click here.
Interested in sharing your expertise with other designated centres throughout the province? Want to have an article published in our next info-bulletin? If you would like to submit your project or a project developed by a member of your team, we want to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.