Bridging a gap: New program

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A recent article in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry noted that, “As health-care delivery continues to evolve into community-centred care, the roles and functions of specialty geriatric mental health outreach services must respond to the new challenges presented to them.”

Providing mobile crisis intervention services and continuing care to seniors in North York and Etobicoke is the focus of a new collaborative program led by the Mobile Crisis Response Program of Saint Elizabeth Health Care (SEHC), a not-for-profit charitable organization providing home and community care services throughout Ontario.

The psychogeriatric crisis program – believed to be one of the first of its kind in Canada – is geared towards providing a quick response to crisis situations for seniors dealing with a variety of mental health issues, such as memory loss, wandering behaviour, depression, paranoia, social isolation, elder abuse or medications.

Community organizations, clients or their families can access a 24-hour crisis line. Response to the crisis will consist of a telephone consult and a mobile visit for psychogeriatric assessment. Assessments will follow the best practice guidelines for delirium, depression and dementia, and will include reason for referral, mental status, personal and medical history, medication history and capabilities, safety assessment, MMSE, depression scale, and activities of daily living.

In keeping with SEHC’s mission to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families in their homes and communities, the focus of the assessment and response will be for the client to remain in their environment of choice and reduce the need for hospitalization and long-term care.

Crisis workers at Saint Elizabeth Health Care will receive education and skills training regarding assessment of seniors, so that all team members can recognize and identify clients who require psychogeriatric assessments and services.

To respond to the client’s needs holistically, the pyschogeriatric nurse and crisis worker will:

  • Identify precipitating factors
  • Provide education and support to client and family members
  • Develop a safety plan with the client and/or family
  • Make linkages and referrals to appropriate community supports and programs
  • Provide follow-up services for up to six weeks as needed
In addition to providing timely and age-appropriate response to individuals experiencing pyschogeriatric-related crises, it is hoped that the new program will improve access to appropriate community-based services for seniors and their caregivers.

Another objective of the program is to help facilitate a seamless continuum of care for clients through the partnerships being built with area hospital and community-based services.

The psychogeriatric crisis response program is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

For more information, please call (416) 498-3805.