Have you heard of the Portage Users’ Committee? This small group of residents from Portage centres located in the Montreal area have met several times a year since 2010 to discuss the best way of spreading the good news that, yes indeed, residents do have the right, in fact the duty, to voice their opinion on various aspects of the Portage experience, including programming, safety, physical environment and activities. And as is always the case in life, they also have obligations. In order to help users both express their opinions and fulfill their obligations, each centre also has a Residents’ Committee comprised by…residents, of course, since they know firsthand about daily life in the centres.
The Portage administration takes these committees very seriously. The Users’ Committee is represented on the « Program and Vigilance » Committee, the Risk Management Committee and the Board of Trustees. Its ideas and suggestions are always taken into account because of its important contribution in terms of ongoing quality improvement and the smooth running of activities.
Clients learn about users’ rights when they first arrive at a Portage centre, but because they are busy adapting to their new environment at that time, the Users’ Committee wanted to find a more interactive way of reminding them of their rights and obligations. That’s how the Montreal Users’ Committee came up with the idea of a quiz almost a year ago now. The quiz was initially developed by Katrine Desjardins, staff at the Mother-Child Centre and first president for life of the Users’ Committee. The initial version of the quiz was subsequently polished and tested on unit managers with the help of the Committee and of the Complaints Commissioner Pierre-Antoine Guinard .
The Users’ Committee decided to officially launch the quiz during Users’ Rights Week in late September. Portage centres throughout Canada took an active part in the quizzing process, which was conducted by Residents’ Committees using a bilingual PowerPoint presentation. Participants each received a stress ball bearing the Portage logo, which required a bit of managing, and the quiz was well appreciated by all residents, who learned something about their rights and obligations while also having fun.
Following this first edition of the quiz, the centres soon realized that it might be useful to hold quizzes twice a year since there is always some turnover in the communities due to early departures as well as program completion. It was agreed that the best time to have a quiz would be one week before the user satisfaction survey since the quiz seems to promote reflection on the program. The fact that the first edition of the quiz happened to be held one week before the user satisfaction survey this year was sheer coincidence…proof there really are no coincidences!