Improving Mental Health services the goal of new Community Recovery Team
Swift Current has become the sixth Saskatchewan community to unveil a Community Recovery Team to assist individuals dealing with mental health challenges.
A new seven person Community Recovery Team, one of a total of nine teams which will be in place by the end of the month, was introduced during a press conference in Swift Current on March 8. The province has previously launched community recovery teams in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Yorkton and Weyburn, while Prince Albert and North Battleford will have their teams announced later in March.
The Swift Current team consists of three community mental health nurses, a social worker, and occupational therapist, an addictions worker plus team lead. They will be operating with a different focus from their existing service model.
“We’ll be able to provide untraditional services. So historically, services were provided in an office setting. What the Community Recovery Team allows us to do is to actually go out to the community and go and meet up with these folks going out for coffee to establish relationships, to develop our goals - and have our consumers defining what their goals are, what their limitations are, and us supporting the group,” explained Monica Paul, Team Lead of Swift Current’s Community Recovery Team.
By operating with a team approach, they will be better able to assist in dealing with the many supports which a client could need.
Bryce Martin, Saskatchewan Health Authority Executive Director of Primary Health Care, said the teams have an important role in helping community members deal with their complex, persisting, challenging mental health issues.
“These eight teams are an important step in helping people receive the care they need in the community, rather than having to rely on the acute care system such as hospital emergency rooms and other care settings.”
“This type of program that we’re officially launching today will help to bring back some of the right provider, right service, right time for people who are experiencing mental health issues.”
This new specialized mobile team also helps provide a consistency of mental health care across the province.
“The focus on team-based care, patient management, daily care planning and a flexible scaleable approach sets up the team and their patients for the best chance of success,” Martin added.
Paul discussed the importance of their service in helping provide inclusion, as well as reducing the stigma of Mental Health.
“When I talk about inclusion I mean inclusion to not only social activities, recreational activities, but also employment and vocational activities as well,” she said.
The program will not change their intake of new clients for a high demand service area which includes Swift Current, Leader, Shaunavon, Maple Creek, and Gull Lake.
“Intake will continue to I guess triage our clients and service match. So given the information that is presented, and that’s assessed, then intake will be able to service match that person with our service.”
“According to the statistics that came to me recently, intake is seeing about 3,000 requests for service a year. In light of that, and in light of the increased demand for more specialized services, part of the modernization of mental health is that we had to start service matching. We have to start looking at a stepped care approach in that depending on the needs and the functionally of that person will determine the type of service that they ought to require. Maybe it’s a group service, but it may actually be a Community Recovery Team service that person requires.”
Ultimately, the new service delivery model is aiming to impact the number of hospital admissions for people in crisis.
“Part of the work of this team is actually to prevent hospitalizations. To get to people before they have to go to the emergency room or to the hospital. And sometimes we can’t avoid that. Hospitalizations are going to happen, however what our team can do is then, while our folks are on the unit, we can be establishing relationships and goal setting and start discharge planning as soon as they get there.”
Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley noted the new regional initiation is part of a $4.2 million investment to launch a province wide network.
“It’s perhaps one of the most difficult challenges, addressing mental health,” Hindley said. “To have this service now available in Swift Current, I think provides some new opportunities, and hopefully some better opportunities to provide better care here in our community.”
Swift Current’s launch occurred on the same day as the official opening of the $407 million Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, a 284 bed facility to deliver mental health services to offenders living with mental health issues plus those receiving psychiatric rehabilitation. The facility is the single largest investment in mental health services in Saskatchewan’s history, and is part of the government’s 10 year mental health plan.
“It’s just becoming something that’s more increasingly known and talked about in our communities, as it should be,” Hindley said of mental health issues.
He added that one of the aims of the recovery team will be to grow from a five-day-a-week structured operation into an around the clock service.
“To have this resource available in Swift Current is huge for our community, and it’s a great starting point I think to help address some of the challenges we have here in our community.”
“This is something that I think all of us MLAS hear about. I would say it’s an issue that’s more frequently talked about. Maybe it’s not more prevalent, I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but it’s just something that people are more willing to talk about.”
A seven-person Swift Current Community Recovery Team was official launched on March 8 in order to provide supports for people living with mental health challenges. Present at the official opening were (L to R): Patti Dekowny, Manager, Mental Health Programs; Bryce Martin, Executive Director of Primary Healthcare for the Integrated Health Portfolio within the Saskatchewan Health Authority; Monica Paul, Team Lead of the Community Recovery Team; Jennifer Hennig, Community Mental Health Nurse; Karla Rempel, Addictions Councillor; Crystal Corey, Occupational Therapist, and Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley.