Our People in profile: Mental Health and Addictions Western Zone Quality Leader speaks to the heart of Accreditation

Yvonne daSilva, Western Zone Mental Health and Addictions (WZ MHA) Quality Leader (QL) at Nova Scotia Health.
Yvonne daSilva, Western Zone Mental Health and Addictions (WZ MHA) Quality Leader (QL) at Nova Scotia Health.

“I just love helping people – I guess that’s the psychologist in me,” said Yvonne daSilva, Western Zone Mental Health and Addictions (WZ MHA) Quality Leader (QL) at Nova Scotia Health.

Following receipt of her Honours B.A.in Nova Scotia, daSilva knew she wanted to pursue a career in helping those whose lives were impacted by substance abuse and dependence. This strong interest led her to a university in the United States where she received a Master’s degree in Psychology, specifically focused on substance abuse and treatment.

Incorporated into her graduate studies, daSilva completed a state-level Certificate in Pharmacology, as well as a clinical internship at an opioid use disorder treatment clinic, where she continued to work for several years before moving on to work for the U.S. federal government managing several national-level initiatives, the majority of which focused on various facets of opioid use disorder, and efficacy and effectiveness of treatment.  

As the Quality Lead for WZ MHA and a member of the provincial MHA Quality Leads Team, daSilva’s role is broad and diverse. From working as the WZ MHA lead on Accreditation, SIMS (Safety Incident Management System) and Quality Reviews, and serving as Facilitator on the WZ MHAP Quality Improvement & Safety Committee, to collaborating with her Quality Lead peers on MHAP provincial initiatives, such as local implementation of procedures, guidelines, and policies, and the development of the recently released MHA Orientation for new staff, daSilva’s scope of work is broad and diverse, and her responsibilities, significant.

A focal point of daSilva’s role is preparing WZ MHA teams for Accreditation, an enormous undertaking that covers all WZ MHA services and systems and helping to ensure that managers and staff understand and working within, the parameters set forth by Accreditation Canada Standards.

“To prepare our teams for Accreditation, WZ MHA created a specific structure of regularly scheduled Accreditation preparation meetings that I co-lead with my Director, and we’ve found this to be working very well,” said daSilva.

“Outside of those meetings, I am then responsible for leading the Accreditation preparation activities, such as the mock tracers*, reviewing survey results and supporting the development of corresponding action plans, providing instructions for staff, and coordinating any work that needs to be done to ensure our teams feel confident that they can demonstrate to surveyors how they are meeting the Standards through the great work they do every day!”

daSilva is a true team player and finds the joy of her role is in meeting with teams, helping managers, staff, and supporting her QL colleagues in whatever way she can.

“If I don’t have the answer, I can usually find it or, at the very least, direct people to the right place…and if that’s not the case, I’ll do my absolute best to figure it out,” she said. “…there is a sense of accomplishment when I hear that I helped one of our team members in some way…such as having staff express feelings of relief at the conclusion of a mock tracer, saying, “Wow! That wasn’t so bad after all…! I think we got this!””

“I think the most important thing for all of us to keep in mind about Accreditation is that, in the end, the purpose of having and ensuring adherence to standards in any health care setting is to ensure the safety of patients and staff in all that we do,” said daSilva. “…it is to keep you, your colleagues, and all of your patients and their visitors safe...that is what’s at the heart of it all….”

*A tracer is a method used to evaluate organizations against accreditation standards. It follows the path of a patient or process, asking questions and making observations to determine if the standards are met. – Accreditation Canada