Culture Clash

It is often unclear who the leadership at CAMH is trying to please—the funder, the public itself, or its corporate partners. One thing we know for certain is that our culture here at CAMH has shifted significantly and the corporate culture is alive and well.

What do we mean by this exactly? Well, we know you receive InSite and messages from our great leaders, but it is all about the messages they send us. Recently two articles appeared which made the Union both shake their heads and smile at the same time.

On May 22nd, an article was sent to Directors asking them to deliver “key messages” to staff on workplace stress and fatigue, after all we are in accreditation mode, stress and fatigue put the organization at risk and we need to be seen to be doing this—it was not a message that said CAMH cares, CAMH wants to care or even CAMH should care—it was the message that we need to revisit this issue as it is a requirement of accreditation (to be honest, it has never been visited, so the notion of a revisit was interesting).

Apparently stress and fatigue have an impact on our work, and apparently the workers are less productive and even problematic when they have stress and fatigue. In order to be more productive and do more work, we will build a greater resilience and this will help us reduce our stress and fatigue levels. They even give our great leaders a helpful worksheet when dealing with staff who have fatigue and stress… But most offensive was the notion that somehow in a day we might all have time to hunker down, strain our eyes a bit more, tense up our shoulders and complete an e-learning module on stress and fatigue—indeed the corporate culture is alive and well. This is a culture which measures success by how much productivity a team has and what stats we can use as key indicators of our success; a culture where people are expendable and easily replaced.

The difficulty many of us are having is this is not the culture we came from or even want to be part of. The culture of health care workers, is caring, empathetic, engaging… It is not about stats but all about people and how they feel and how we can help, and we rarely tell our clients to go to an e-learning module to mitigate their circumstance and get more productive! Could you imagine?!

In the second article, there was much back slapping and hand shaking with a twist of congratulatory “we did it” double speak. The article encourages “every single person at CAMH to improve efficiency and innovate… We will streamline and provide care closer to home… We must see as many people as possible…” CAMH is truly amazing, they closed a very successful program, laid off the entire staff group—offered a few people some new positions, never-before posted and we of course should somehow feel good about that.

Reality check—how is it that CAMH is able to do all they do with such a reduction in staff?  How do we keep laying people off and yet expand, grow and improve access? Not to worry, we have international evidence and we have evolved from the old plans. We have diagnostics and pharmacology… We have the Wizard of Oz.

The union recognizes CAMH needs to keep telling everyone how wonderful they are doing-it keeps the bonus money coming and the cameras rolling, and that will keep the donations flowing—and that makes Corporate CAMH very happy.

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