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From the ground up: how one team is making a difference

The Provincial Perinatal Substance Use Project Team is working to develop a continuum of care, services and supports for women who are pregnant and early parenting while using substances. Learn more about this PHSA+ Award-winning team!
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Top row left to right: Pamela Joshi, Denise Bradshaw, Dr. Annabel Mead, Hawkfeather Peterson, Caren Morris-Jones, Kinnon Ross
Bottom row left to right: Jeane Riley, Akash Sidhu, Stacey Boon, Elder Glida Morgan, Elder Roberta Price, Denise Bradshaw, Sara Pavan, Cheryl Davies

Based at BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, the Provincial Perinatal Substance Use Project Team (PPSUP) is working to develop a continuum of care that expands and enhances provincial services and supports for women who are pregnant and early parenting while using substances. These women, their families and communities have unique needs for services and supports; however, they face significant barriers in accessing care due to stigma, fear of loss of child custody, and histories of trauma. Indigenous women are disproportionately impacted by these barriers, and contend with even greater stigma when receiving care. 

The PPSUP team works to improve health outcomes for mothers and future generations, including decreasing the number of child removals, by partnering with regional health authorities and community organizations, implementing trainings and education across the province, and leading project and regional working groups.

We (virtually) sat down with Denise Bradshaw, director for the PPSUP Team, and Akash Sidhu, project coordinator for the team. We discussed their experience on the team and how their work is making a difference for newly parenting and pregnant women using substances.   

Impacting system-level change

Denise Bradshaw built the PPSUP team from the ground up. Her search for project team members was deeply rooted in principle-based practice and values. The result is a high-functioning project team consisting of diverse talents and strengths that is truly dedicated and passionate about improving the system of care for women, families and communities. Ultimately, Denise was drawn to the work to be able to impact system-level change, so that "women who are pregnant and use substances have access to care and can connect with people who have expertise in this work across community and acute care settings". 

The project team has built partnerships and involved more than 300 stakeholders across the province, including important relationships with Indigenous-led organizations, to ensure that their work is safe. The level of engagement that this project has achieved over the past two and a half years is something Denise takes great pride in: 

"The project has been able to form relationships with health, social and housing providers and this is outstanding. It's no easy feat to establish and maintain strong relationships that work to improve the wellbeing of communities."

Connection to the work, and to each other, is an important pursuit for the PPSUP. The team brings voices that are often excluded at the table, including women with lived and living experience and Elders, and ensures their voices are heard. The team is structured to empower each and every team member to bring forward new ideas while fostering a safe environment. For Akash, working on this team keeps her motivated:

"The care and compassion not only for the population we serve but for each member of this team is truly remarkable and drives our work, to set high standards and provide the best possible care for women."

The PPSUP team is united by their commitment to strive for better outcomes through their alignment to the project principles – something Denise believes contributes to their high performance as a team.

Celebrating team achievements

The team also wholeheartedly believes in celebrating their achievements, and winning a PHSA+ Award is certainly cause for celebration! They are honoured to be recognized for the work they do to improve the system of care for the population they serve, and we are equally proud to acknowledge their hard work.  

If you would like to learn more about the work of the PPSUP team, consider subscribing to The Bridge – a monthly newsletter update on their work and progress. You can also watch the video "Women Together: Conquer Stigma. Perinatal Substance Use" on the BC Women's website, which brings the work to life through conversations with some of the women who comprise this great team.

The PHSA+ Award program is managed by our Workplace Experience team, part of PHSA Human Resources. Workplace Experience also manages overall employee recognition programming including our Long Service Awards, e-cards, perks and a variety of other recognition efforts. For more information, contact

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