Dignity By Default

A Service Standard for Adult Addictions and Mental Health Services in Waterloo Wellington


  1. Understand the needs of people. Research to develop a deep knowledge of who the existing and potential service users are and what that means for the design of the service.  Use the Experience Patterns to support your understanding of people’s needs.
  2. Actively involve service users and their families/supporters in the whole design process. Find ways that work for them and compensate them for their time.
  3. Quality = outcome + experience. Regularly make and submit a formal plan for measuring and researching the quality of each service’s design and delivery. Continuously seek feedback from people who use and deliver services. Use this data to signal opportunities for change that will improve service user experiences and outcomes.
  4. Put in place access to a sustainable, complexity-capable, multidisciplinary team that can design, build and operate the service, led by a suitably skilled and senior service manager with decision-making responsibility.
  5. Build and deliver services using methods that focus on people’s needs, allow teams to move quickly and support continuous improvement. Build in multiple options/methods for people to interact with and receive care.
  6. Evaluate what resources will be used to build, provide and measure the service, and how to procure them. Think about how they will affect the delivery of services.
  7. Develop a plan for how people will access and learn about your service. Communicate information that is important to people accessing service, in a way that they can understand.
  8. Evaluate what service user data and information the service will be collecting, using and disclosing. Realistically address the security, legal responsibilities, and privacy issues. Ensure people have a reasonable way to access their own information.
  9. Make a plan to deal with risk within a service. Balance people’s rights and dignity with realistic safety and security measures. Recovery requires a careful level of risk taking.
  10. Make all new knowledge and practices open and reusable, and publish them under appropriate licenses (or provide a convincing explanation as to why this cannot be done for specific subsets of knowledge).
  11. Build on the shoulders of others by expanding or partnering with existing services before creating something entirely new, and using common standards, methods and platforms whenever possible.
  12. Test a service from end-to-end and in the context of diverse real-life scenarios. Consider how one service interacts or doesn’t interact with others and how one person accesses and manages multiple services they may need. Consider how other aspects of a person’s life will impact their experience of the service.
  13. Assume that, at some point, a service will be interrupted or closed. Design services that prepare individuals for the time between their service interactions, whether these are days, years or decades in length. 
  14. Create services that support people the first time they reach out for help. Focus on making services that are simple, skill-based, and that address multiple issues and root cause at the same time.
  15. Build services that are consistent throughout the addictions and mental health system. Align expectations around experience and communication with reality in a way that is predictable across services.
  16. Build services that allow people to access some form of support all of the time without being banned or kicked out. If a service user needs a change of environment or a break from a service, other services step in temporarily. 
  17. Identify performance indicators for the service that evaluate both experience and outcomes. Establish a benchmark for each metric and make a plan to enable improvements. Report performance data on a shared digital platform that is available to the general public.
  18. Test each stage (entry, service delivery, transitions) of service with the service leader (or LHIN representative) responsible for it and with people who will be using it. Make sure the people managing the service and the people who will be using it know what it’s actually like to be in that service.
  19. Build a service that you would be happy to recommend to use yourself and recommend to your loved ones.