Sowing the seeds for a person-centered future in Quebec

By Judith Vonberg

Person-centered care (PCC) has been an integral part of Audiology courses at Université de Montréal in Canada for more than a decade. But without French translations of the Ida Institute’s tools, it’s been difficult for students to learn from and use these resources, whether in the on-campus clinic, during their internships, or as hearing care professionals after graduation.

That’s now changing, largely thanks to Karina Moïn-Darbari (pictured above), a Master’s student at the university who last year recruited her Audiology classmates to work on French translations of Ida’s Motivation Tools

She recalls hearing about the Ida Institute in her first semester, looking up the website, and getting excited about the tools available.

“Then I looked at all the lovely languages that are available on the website and saw that there was nothing in French. My heart was just so sad,” she says.

“We have a growing population of audiologists in Quebec, and I believe person-centered care should be important in everyone’s practice. That’s why I reached out to the Ida Institute to offer our help in translating the tools. One day, the goal is to have everything translated, but we’re starting slow, doing what we can.”

PCC going strong at Montréal

Until now, the driving forces behind PCC at the university – in both the teaching of audiology and the practice of it at the university clinic – have been Clinical Educator Isabelle Billard and Associate Professor Ronald Choquette.

Billard has taught PCC to Montréal’s Audiology students since 2007 and was instrumental in ensuring that PCC is embedded throughout the university’s new Masters degree in Audiology, which launched in 2019.

In her teaching, based on the Calgary-Cambridge Guide, she incorporates tools similar to the Line and the Circle – two of Ida’s Motivation Tools – as well as a large bank of role play scenarios, ensuring the students are exposed to real-life situations and learn to see the human being in front of them and show empathy from the start of their course.  

Choquette came to the university in 2012 after 26 years as a clinician in a rural hospital, where he had avoided the “one-shot” model of a single appointment in favor of meeting several times with each patient and discussing their individual needs – without realizing this person-centered approach had a name. 

He now often uses Ida’s tools in his practice at the university clinic, including Living Well and Goal Sharing for Partners, but acknowledges that the lack of translations has been “a big problem.”
“Ida has a lot of good material, but it’s all in English, which means you have to take the time to translate them, adapt them,” Choquette says. “And not everybody will do that.”

Both are eager to start using the French tools as soon as possible. Billard plans to incorporate the Box into a module on motivational interviewing, while French subtitles on some of Ida’s PCC videos will enable students to see and learn from the tools being used in real clinical settings. 

Students taught to ‘look outside the box’

Billard, Choquette, and Moïn-Darbari are hopeful about the future of PCC in Quebec, but they are also aware of the challenges. 

While PCC is integral to the work of rehabilitation clinics in the province, the situation is very different in evaluation clinics.

“When you look at the number of people who are diagnosed with hearing loss every day, it’s a minimal number who go to rehab clinics,” explains Choquette. 

“This leaves a lot of patients who end up with the one-size-fits-all approach – ‘you have hearing loss, get hearing aids.’ But sometimes hearings aids aren’t the best choice, or sometimes you have to complement the hearing aid with communication strategies or assisted listening devices.

“It’s about looking at the need of the patient and family and creating the best intervention plan together. It’s what we try to tell the students, to look outside the box a little bit.”

By integrating PCC into all aspects of the students’ education at Montréal – now with the bonus of having Ida tools available in French – Billard and Choquette hope to contribute to long-term change. 

“We want to show that, whether the audiologist is in a rehab or an evaluation clinic, PCC can be applied, it can be the way to work with patients. So we try to sow the seeds in the students, hoping that they will flourish elsewhere.”

Teaching PCC means teaching best practice

Moïn-Darbari is optimistic about implementing PCC in a clinical setting after she graduates. 

“Where there are already systems in place, it’s hard for one person to change the way things are done. But you can still have an impact with each person you see, even if the time is limited,” she says.

Billard is keen to encourage academics at other universities to embrace PCC and incorporate it in their teaching, especially where the tools are already available in the right language.

“If Ida had been as well known as it is today when I first started teaching, no doubt I would have gone straight to that source at the very beginning,” she says. “There are plenty of resources available.”

For Billard, teaching PCC is about teaching best practice: “PCC makes sense, it’s supported by literature, and if we want to show the best practice, we shouldn’t be scared of what it involves.”