Our People in Profile: Nurse at East Coast Forensic Hospital reflects on importance of rapport and trust

Jakab Boudreau, LPN at East Coast Forensic Hospital (contributed)

For five years, Jakab Boudreau has worked at the East Coast Forensic Hospital (ECFH) as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). 

Part of Nova Scotia Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program, ECFH offers specialized forensic mental health treatment for clients who come from the judicial system. 

ECFH has two rehabilitation units and an assessment unit, where court ordered assessments are performed and treatment is provided to inmates experiencing acute mental illness.

As a nurse in the rehabilitation unit, Boudreau’s responsibility is to help clients stabilize and reduce risks, advance in their recovery and prepare to transition back into their communities. This includes providing education, managing medications, and providing the patients with skills and tools to help manage their mental illness – which in turn, builds trust and mutual respect and allows clients to progress in their community access slowly over time as they prepare for eventual discharge.

It is the resilience of his clients that moves Boudreau. 

“Our clients are incredibly stigmatized,” he said, noting the importance of creating a non-judgmental and engaging space for those in his care. 

“I try to help my clients feel de-stigmatized, so they can have the confidence to function well in society,” said Boudreau. 

What Boudreau finds most rewarding about his role is that it allows him to build therapeutic rapport with clients and learn about mental processes and disorders. 

Therapeutic rapport is fostered with his clients when trust is gained through getting to know them, and doing activities together – such as walks and card games.

“We give people freedom, when they give us trust – (this happens) when clients can follow through with what we can give, in terms of tools for their well-being,” he said. 

ECFH works in partnership with the Departments of Health and Wellness, and Justice. 

ECFH has a Forensic Assessment Correction Treatment (FACT) unit where court ordered assessments are performed and treatment is provided to incarcerated individuals diagnosed with mental illness. 

ECFH also has two rehabilitation units, which provide treatment for individuals who have been found Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) or unfit to stand trial by the Nova Scotia justice system. Patients are under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Code Review Board while at ECFH. These individuals are assessed, participate in treatment programs and work with their health care team to safely re-enter the community.