With twenty years of experience working at St. Joseph’s, Michelle Fredette-Carragher is no stranger to the values of compassion, excellence and respect. Values that not only define St. Joseph’s as an organization, but are carried out in her work on a daily basis.
As a clinical nurse specialist at Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care (Southwest Centre), Michelle provides detailed assessments, care planning and support for direct care teams working through complex situations. Michelle consults with care providers and leadership to promote positive client outcomes and ensures clinical services, policies and models of care align with current evidence-based practices. “I engage in research, whenever possible, to advance nursing practice and patient care outcomes to ensure that our practice continues to evolve and move forward,” says Michelle.
St. Joseph's Southwest Centre is located in Elgin County and is devoted to caring for people with a mental illness who have also come into contact with the criminal justice system. Staff and physicians within various forensic programs assist patients toward recovery and rehabilitation. Through intensive work, many patients are able to develop the skills and supports needed to successfully reintegrate back into their communities.
Michelle provides support to three inpatient units at Southwest Centre. While every day is different, a typical day for her may involve attending rounds on the units, attending care planning and complex case reviews, reviewing policy and legislation changes, or providing education to staff. Michelle is also one of St. Joseph’s ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) trainers for suicide prevention.
“A big challenge is the stigma around the meaning of Forensic Mental Health Care. There is a stigma that we care for ‘scary offenders’ in our facility and that is not the case. The patients that we treat are here because their offense was committed when they were not able to appreciate what they were doing. Through treatment we often see a completely different person emerge. Many patients learn how to cope and function successfully in the community. When you work with them daily you develop a different kind of empathy.”
A personal passion for Michelle is seeing patients working together and reaching goals. When a few patients expressed interest in completing in a 5k run, she and a physiotherapist started a running group to help them work towards achieving their ambition. "Seeing patients cheer each other on and provide encouragement and support to their peers is amazing,” says Michelle.
Michelle has also helped and witnessed patients reach their educational milestones, such as working towards obtaining their high school diplomas while receiving care at Southwest Centre.
Just for fun
A hardworking individual by day, Michelle also knows how to unwind. She loves to spend time camping with family and playing with her dog. As a motorcycle enthusiast, you might even see Michelle heading down a stretch of road to Point Pelee, with the wind trailing behind her.
Learn more about the Forensic Mental Health Care Program and care team.