Mediation

Apologies, Due to ongoing commitments with Lifewise, Carol is not currently taking on new mediation assignments.  

You may find the material below useful for choosing a mediator and understanding the mediation process.

 

Some times relationships between patients and families and their health care providers can break down entirely. Often taking legal action to get answers and make sure some is held accountable or it does not happen to any one else may seem to be the only option for patients and their families.

When legal action is taken by patients it can be very stressful for the individual health care professional and there is potential for huge damage to both personal and organisational reputations as well as the heavy workload of dealing with the legal system. Mediation can be a faster, cheaper and less stressful way of ensuring all views are heard and developing a solution that works for every one.

A strength of our mediation services is our background in organisational development, which helps participants to understand their roles in managing conflict whether they are employees of your organisation or patients/clients using your services.

We are certified to practice by the Mediator’s institute of Ireland.

Our Approach to Mediation

As a mediator accredited with the Institute of Mediation in Ireland, and with experience of the health care system over many years from both a personal and leadership perspective Open Health brings an understanding of the challenges both sides face. From the health care provider working under increasing pressures and reduced funding, to families trying to get the best care possible or explanations when things go wrong.

Our approach to mediation is to allow disputing parties to control the content and the outcome of the mediation as we believe this allows for more creative solutions which are long lasting and support ongoing less adversarial relationships where this is necessary.

We ensure privacy is protected and ask all parties to commit to this before the mediation commences. Mediation takes place in the following stages:

Stage 1 – Initial Contact
Open Health is contacted by a solicitor, health care organisation or directly by one or both of the sides in conflict. We then make contact with the health care professional(s) and patient/family in dispute (known as the Parties) and send them documentation explaining the mediation process and how the mediation process is managed to help ensure good results.

Stage 2 – Explanation of the Mediation Process and Invitation to Engage
Open Health offers each of the Parties an opportunity to make sure they understand the process and to voice any concerns they may have. If both Parties agree to engage in mediation, then the practical arrangements for venue, dates and times are arranged. Relevant documentation is provided to the mediator e.g. any letters of complaint sent to the health care organisation by the complainant and the response letters from the health care organisation.

Stage 3 – Separate Meetings with all of the Parties
Open Health meets each party separately to answer any further clarifying questions. The parties sign the Rules of Engagement for the Mediation Process. We use this private and confidential time with the parties to hear about the dispute and to help each side to focus clearly on their issues, interests and concerns in a very safe and supportive manner.

We appreciate this can be a very stressful time for each party so we try to make this process as easy and relaxed as is possible in the circumstances. We also make sure every one understands the mediation process is voluntary and either party can withdraw at any stage.

Stage 4 – Plenary Session/Caucus Sessions
A plenary session which brings all the Parties together in the one room will take place. We ensure enough time is allowed so that each party feels their views are being heard in a way that is helpful to both parties and allows issues to be very clearly understood.

Sometimes Caucus sessions where Open Health discusses the issues with one party only may need to occur during the mediation process. These may be necessary if Open Health wishes to discuss an issue with one, or both of the parties in private. The degree to which caucusing occurs will depend on the nature of the dispute. Caucusing is used to a greater extent in Civil and Commercial Mediation than in other types of mediation. All discussions at these caucus sessions are confidential and Open Health will not bring information from one party to the other party unless there is clear permission to do so.

The amount of time the session takes will depend on the types of issues being discussed. Generally participants should allow a full day as once both parties feel the discussions are useful then the session continues. Experience has shown this is an easier and less stressful way for the parties to reach agreement then allocating specific blocks of one hour over a period of weeks.

Stage 5 – Agreement
Agreement is reached when both parties believe the issues between them have been resolved in a way that meets their concerns.

When agreement has been reached, this agreement will be signed by each of the Parties and Open Health. The content of the agreement is confidential to each of the Parties and to Open Health unless all of the Parties agree to the contrary. The parties may choose to bring this agreement to each of their solicitors. If they both agree they may also ask Open Health to bring matters to the attention of the Health Care Organisation. Otherwise Open health simply reports that the mediation was held.

What is the purpose of mediation?
Mediation is a process in which an impartial and independent third party supports communication and problem solving between disputing parties in order to help them to reach a solution for the future that is acceptable to both of them.

The mediator provides a forum that makes it safe for both parties to talk and allows them to communicate their interests and needs to each other so that they can negotiate and agree apon a solution that is acceptable to both parties. This is then written into an agreement document that is signed by both parties and the Mediator.

Mediation is suitable for people who want to solve a problem they have with each other, either because they need to work together in the future or they wish to avoid the expense of court proceedings, or they want to develop more creative solutions to a problem. Very often in health care mediations, families want answers, or to know action has been taken to avoid a problem they had with health care reoccurring.

How does it work?
Mediation creates a safe and confidential space so that each party will feel heard and understood by an external, impartial mediator who will maintain confidentiality. The mediator will work to lower tensions and help each party to feels their concerns are being heard.

Each party will get a chance to talk about their situation without interruption. Mediation is not about trying to place the blame on one party and it is not about who is right and who is wrong. By allowing each party to air their concerns, the mediation process supports both parties working together to reach a solution that suits both their needs and interests.

What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator must be neutral and impartial and must maintain confidentiality. The mediator cannot tell you what to do and the process is voluntary for everybody taking part in the mediation. The mediator helps you to identify possible solutions to the situation and write up an agreement. At all times the parties are in control of any issues raised or agreements reached, the mediator supports this process but cannot dictate what happens or even whether any agreement is reached. This ensures both parties are in control of what happens with the result that any agreement reached is more likely to work. The mediator is not a counsellor.

What are the benefits of Mediation?
The benefits of mediation are widely recognised with Irish legislation recognising mediation and a current government bill is proposed to make the option of mediation known to all parties in a legal dispute.

  • Mediation is much less costly than legal proceedings.
  • Mediation reduces the stress and conflict for the parties involved in a dispute as it can take place quickly (within days) and reduces tensions between parties.
  • Both parties in dispute are given responsibility for negotiating their own agreement without imposition from a third party such as a judge, an arbitrator or an adjudicator.
  • It reduces the time investment by solicitors, patients and their families, managers and supervisors.
  • The risks in employing mediation are low and the potential for a successful outcome is high.
  • Mediation can be entered into without the parties jeopardising their other dispute resolution options and, at any stage, people are free to choose to withdraw from mediation at any time.