you and your healthcare team

You and the treatment team

People with a chronic illness like schizophrenia are in contact with many different health care professionals, from psychiatrists to occupational therapists. When families are part of the treatment, the chances for success are much better.

How can I help?

You know and understand your family member. You can contribute to treatment and recovery by being involved in a positive way. That means building good relationships with the professionals who provide care and services.

Learn the names of the people involved in their care and treatment and ask how you can be involved.

Understand that professionals often have to deal with difficult patients, unrealistic expectations, funding shortages, and laws that affect what they can do. When someone really makes a difference, write a letter to show your appreciation.

What is my role in the treatment team

If your relative has a treatment team, you should ask to be a part of it. It’s important that both of you be involved in decisions involving care and treatment. As a member of the treatment team, you should:
  • Ask for regular meetings. How often they are held will vary, depending on the stage of the illness.
  • Help keep meetings short and focused. Be on time for appointments and come prepared with your list of questions, concerns, and observations.
  • Get involved in developing and reviewing the treatment plan. The plan should include goals, actions, and progress.
  • Be familiar with your loved one’s medications
  • If they are receiving treatment in the hospital, be involved in decisions around discharge.

What is my role in care and treatment?

One of the most important things you can do is be informed. If you need information, ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask for more explanation. 
  • Learn as much as you can about how the health care system works. Follow hospital routines.
  • Keep detailed, accurate records (including dates) of everything that involvestheir care and treatment. Keep letters and other correspondence organized in files.
  • Try to be constructive and helpful.
  • Talk about your family member as a person, not just as someone with an illness. 
  • If they have been found incompetent to make treatment decisions, you may be asked to be a Substitute Decision Maker. Contact the Ministry of the Attorney General for more information.

What can I expect from health care professionals?

Health care professionals should: 
  • Develop a relationship with the patient.
  • Involve other professionals when needed.
  • Provide services that are culturally sensitive.
  • Provide information that is straightforward and easy to understand, in a person’s first language whenever possible.Technical terms should be clarified.
  • Provide you with information about schizophrenia and whatsupport is available to you as a caregiver.  Stay up-to-date on the latest developmentsin medication and research.
Try not to be intimidated by doctors or other health care professionals. Most health care providers are caring and understanding. Focus on why you are there: to get the best care for your loved one.

What if I have a problem with a health care professional?

  • You may have a concern about the care or treatment that can not seem to be resolved, no matter what you do. Don’t give up.
  • Write a letter about your concern and send it to the person involved, the hospital’s chief of staff or CEO (chief executive officer) , or another official.
  • Contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. They have a way for the public to express concerns about a doctor.(1-800-268-7096, ext. 615 or www.cpso.on.ca)
  • Keep records of all letters and correspondence.