Longtime McLean community member Joanne Grady-Savard has been named director of McLean Hospital’s newest program, Peer and Family Support Services. In this new role, Grady-Savard will lead a team of employees and volunteers who are focused on providing nonclinical support and advocacy to patients and their families.
“It’s a dream of my lifetime,” responded Grady-Savard when asked how she felt about being hired to lead this new service. “I know from personal experience how important it is to provide a warm, supportive community and make a wide range of resources available for people with lived experience and their families and loved ones. Being able to do this for others makes this the most meaningful role of my career.”
The service’s staff, many with lived experience, will collaborate with McLean’s clinical teams to enhance recovery-oriented care. Grady-Savard’s work will provide the bridge between clinical staff, peers, and families to provide education, support, and referrals that enhance continuity of care and community integration.
“We are thrilled to introduce this new service at McLean. It’s something the hospital has wanted to offer for a long time,” said Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services Linda M. Flaherty, RN, PMHCNS-BC. “Joanne’s passion and enthusiasm for helping patients and families—born of her own experience—make her ideal for the role.”
Path to a Dream Job
Grady-Savard herself has a lot of lived experience. Her history with McLean started when her mother was hospitalized here in the late 1960s. Five of her siblings were subsequently diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, and three of them were treated at McLean. She was a caretaker for all of those family members.
Several years ago, shortly after another family member was treated at McLean, Grady-Savard applied to become a member of McLean Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). This advisory board was established to serve as a forum for volunteers—former patients, family members of former patients, and staff—to discuss ways to promote patient and family-centered care. She said that she interviewed for the role because she felt that not enough progress had been made in how families at McLean and other psychiatric facilities are engaged and informed about their family members’ care.