Mar 8, 2023 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH
Every year on March 8 we recognize International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Jenniffer Clifford, Operations and Clinical Practice Manager of Specialized Geriatrics Program and Senior Friendly Care initiatives, is just one of many great female leaders at HDGH. Most recently, she has done an exceptional job managing a patient unit that was opened to support additional hospital capacity within the Windsor-Essex hospital system.
In this blog, Jenniffer shares the qualities she has gained that helped contribute to the success in her personal and professional life.
I am told I have been recognized as being a “strong female leader” and have been asked to share what it means to me to be a strong female in leadership. To be honest, I was a little surprised that someone thought that of me at all, but the more I thought about it, the more humbled I am to be recognized in this way.
I truly believe that who I am today and where I am currently in my professional career because of the many personal and professional experiences, both good and bad, that I have encountered and have made me grow stronger. Before my time in social work, I worked in the community for many years in group homes. Supporting some of the most vulnerable people, I spent a lot of time in hospitals as a care-partner battling and advocating for those I supported within the “medical model” field. My voice was often overlooked by medical teams as myself and the people I supported never really included me in any type of treatment planning and the treatment decisions were made based on what others felt the value of life was; when in reality, they had no idea about what quality of life really meant. Years of these professional experiences across our healthcare system led me to further pursue my education in Social Work and gain some graduate level credentials behind my name, so that I could advocate and be seen as a valuable contributor to the discussion. The same messages and ideas I tried to convey to upper management earlier in my career were now being heard. I consider the 11 years I spent in the community as my “foundation years”. They were some of the hardest and most rewarding years of my professional life.
With every experience I had, I walked away learning something about myself, and my passion began to ignite. As time went on both personally and professionally, I grew more comfortable with who I was and what I needed, and I learned to be unapologetically myself. I learned it was okay to take risks, to advocate for what I believed in, to question things I wasn’t sure about, to tell people exactly what I needed from them and realized I can only control myself and my actions in any situation.
Fast forward 12 years to when I moved into a leadership role, I quickly realized there is no handbook on how to be the perfect leader; nor does any exist. To boot, there are only a few of us in the clinical leadership team who are not nurses— that’s a whole other mindset of standards that a “social model” social worker like myself felt needed to figure out how to live up to – how could I lead NOT being a nurse? Two plus years in and I am still learning everyday how to navigate my many roles and responsibilities, and can now appreciate the fact that it’s awesome that I’m NOT a nurse, because I bring a different perspective and mindset to the table, and that’s not a bad thing!
- Sheryl Sandberg, former COO, Facebook
Here are the qualities I have gained from my experiences that helped me become a strong female leader.
Jenniffer is a Registered Social Worker (RSW) and holds both a Bachelor (BSW) and Master’s Degree (MSW) in Social Work from the University of Windsor. Jenniffer also holds a diploma from St. Clair College as a Developmental Services Worker (DSW). With over 20 years of experience in a variety of settings, Jenniffer has a passion for Specialized Geriatrics with areas of expertise that include Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Geriatric Mental Health, Caregiver Support, Developmental Disabilities, Dual Diagnosis, and Responsive Behaviours. Her passion for this population has led her to different opportunities around the organization, and provincially. In her current role, she is the Operations Manager of HDGH’s Specialized Geriatrics Teams, GAP & GMHOT, and she also acts as the Specialized Geriatrics Clinical Practice Manager for the organization. When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their two children, many friends and family and golfing.
May 6, 2022 | Mental Health, Leadership
I have always worked in healthcare and most of my career has been spent in mental health. I began working in Children and Youth Mental Health when HDGH was first applying to become the Lead Agency. I fell in love with the work and went from working on the application to being the operational lead supporting the work from a project management perspective. I had a great mentor in Dr. Mary Broga who was the Executive Lead at the time. The strategic system-level work was a perfect fit for me and things evolved from there.
A lead agency is an organization that both delivers Child and Youth Mental Health Services and is responsible for working with other providers to ensure that the right services are in place within the community.
Lead Agencies work with other agencies that receive funding for children and youth mental health services and other community partners to improve the local C&Y mental health system. Together with our partners, we develop plans in which we identify several key priorities aimed at improving access and/or services. We then work together to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in those plans. We are also often responsible for making recommendations regarding funding allocations and where new investment should go to address system pressures or gaps.
This work is so important because mental health is health and it all begins in childhood, in fact, it begins even before. Continually assessing the needs of the children, youth and families of our community and ensuring the system is responsive to those needs is key. The unique aspect of the Lead Agency model is that it allows for those closest to the work – with boots on the ground - to assess the gaps and challenges and to be able to collaborate with system partners in an attempt to respond to those gaps and challenges.
The next three years will be about strengthening our partnerships so that we can improve pathways into and through services. Increasing access to the right kind of care, at the right time, is essential. All of this needs to be done using data and evidence to drive our decisions. We also need to make sure that the voices of those with lived experience have an opportunity to not only have their voices heard but to be part of co-creating solutions with us as they are equal partners in the building of a strong system for Children and Youth Mental Health.
WEConnectKids is about helping families who don’t know where to go for help get connected to the right mental health and addiction services. One of our goals as a community is to make it easier for families to find the help that they need. When you are struggling, or your child is struggling, the last thing that you need is to have to call several different places before you find the right program. The WEConnectKids team will take that burden off of those seeking help and work with our system partners, work to get folks connected to the right services. That being said, it’s important the community knows that this new central access doesn’t mean that families can’t contact any of our children and youth mental health organizations directly. It’s not meant to create an added layer but instead assist those who don’t know where to start and get connected right away to the right services.
As a Lead Agency, we not only have a responsibility to our local community, but we also work closely with colleagues across the province to improve the quality of and access to CYMH services across Ontario.
Collaborative, family-centred, and system-focused.
Collaborative because we cannot meet the needs nor improve our system, our community by working in silos. Working together with our partners is the only way to move the system forward.
Family-centred as we are working to create a better system based on the needs of children, youth and families. By working with those with lived experience, we hope to learn from them and co-create programs and system improvements that make sense for families.
System-focused because we are focused on breaking down silos. Focused on the broader continuum of care and ensuring that the various core services are in place across the system and that they work together to ensure continuity and that when required, services are wrapped around the family providing a greater, integrated plan of care.
There is a bit of the perfect, or not so perfect storm, that is happening right now in the CYMH sector. As a result of the pandemic, we are seeing the needs increasing while at the same time organizations across the province are struggling with significant Health Human Resource issues. Recruiting and retaining qualified staff has been a longstanding issue in the sector but has recently risen to a point of crisis. This increased need coupled with a lack of clinical staff is resulting in increased wait times for services. The system is seeking new and innovative ways to deliver care that will enable greater throughput and reduced wait-times but more will need to be done.
I’m very proud to be launching WEConnectKids. It’s something that our CYMH partners have been working towards for several years. The first step was getting the technology in place to support the referrals. Once we did that, we had to make sure we had the pathways, protocols and partnerships in place to make it work. I’m very grateful to our partners at Children First, Maryvale, Family Respite and weCHC Youth Addictions Program for sticking with the vision and continuing to work together to make this a reality for our community.
Apr 1, 2022 | Mental Health, Leadership, Research and Innovation, Community and Partnerships, Patient Stories, Faces of HDGH, Road to Recovery – Restorative Rehabilitative Care, Palliative Care, Spirituality, Heritage
Welcome Readers. Our HDGH Team has always loved sharing stories with our community. Our Blog is just one of the many creative ways to do that with you. It has become a popular corner of our website where everyone is welcome to not only learn ABOUT our hospital, but also FROM the talented healthcare experts and professional voices we are proud to call our HDGH People. Our blog will be home to sharing expertise through varying healthcare-related topics from interviews, experience, patient stories, daily topics on how to stay healthy, and more.
You may have also noticed a new name to the HDGH Blog. “Maison Dieu Health” is a nod to our HDGH Heritage, honouring our French-Canadian five founding sisters of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph’s (RHSJ) who with love, perseverance, faith and persistence travelled from Montreal over 135 years ago to establish Windsor’s first hospital – Hôtel-Dieu of St. Joseph.
You can think of Maison Dieu Health as your refuge for wellness-related resources, all accessible “under one roof” through the many voices of our HDGH staff and community.
With that, welcome to Maison Dieu Health.
General Info: (519) 257-5111
1453 Prince Rd.
Windsor, ON N9C 3Z4
© 2018 Copyright. Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.
Created By Blue Lemon Media