Changes to IWK’s Mental Health and Addictions Program Reduce Wait Times by Seven Months, More Improvement to Come
Mar 12, 2012
Halifax, NS …. The IWK’s Mental Health and Addictions Program has made great strides in reducing wait lists and improving access to care since elements of its multi-year strategic plan began implementation.
The IWK’s Mental Health Strategic Plan was designed to deliver better mental health care for children and youth through improved access, shorter waiting lists, and care plans that are more evidence-based and innovative. “Since November 2011, when we reinvested in a new model for managing our wait for community based care, we have dropped our wait list from 1100 youth who had not had a first appointment, to less than 70. We have also reduced our time between referral and first appointment from an average of 10 months to three months” says Jocelyn Vine, Vice President, Patient Care, “And, our goal is for new referrals to wait no more than four weeks, when the plan is fully implemented.”
Vine says that in order to accomplish the Mental Health and Addictions Program’s shift in strategic direction, decisions are being be made regarding use of resources and models of staffing. “We are moving in a new direction – taking the resources we have and redirecting them, using evidence that shows we can do things better and reach more young people sooner,” she says.
In addition to the new model that streamlines care to youth on the waiting lists in the community, there will also be a shift to a new care model that will see a reduction in the number of children and young people staying overnight at the ACT and COMPASS treatment centres. “We will move from a residential approach to day treatment for some young people when appropriate, says Vine. “These changes are based on evidence that care should be provided in the least restrictive environment possible, within the community – and involve families as active partners in care.” There will be overnight stays available for children or youth with complex needs or from farther afield.
ACT (Adolescent Centre for Treatment) provides rehabilitative treatment for youth with severe behaviour disorders and significant mental health treatment needs, while COMPASS treats younger children with similar issues.
The funds saved by reducing overnight stays will be redirected to expand the availability of day treatment programs in ACT and COMPASS and also to continue to fund more community mental health services to keep waiting lists at an acceptable level now that they have been reduced so substantially.
“By applying a Models of Care in Nova Scotia approach to review people, processes, information and technology, there will be a change in care provider to many of our patients as well. This will mean increases in the number of Nurses, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and Recreational Therapists.,” says Vine. With the reduction in overnight residential programming and other models of care changes, there will be a decreased need for youth care workers, resulting in some reductions of youth care worker positions.
Youth care workers currently employed in the Mental Health and Addictions Program have been advised of these changes today. According to Vine, “We need to move to using the right professional, at the right place and the right time to provide the best care.”
The IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program serves children, youth and families throughout Nova Scotia and the other Maritime provinces. The program includes acute mental health care, as well as Youth Forensic Services, Intensive Community Based Treatment (ICBTT), Shared Care, ACT (Adolescent Centre for Treatment), COMPASS, CHOICES (Addictions Treatment program), and Reproductive Mental Health.
IWK Mental Health and Addictions is committed to providing the most appropriate services to meet the needs of children, youth and families through a continuum of care, ranging from early intervention to more intensive services.
For more information contact:
Kathryn London-Penny, Executive Director, Public Relations
IWK Health Centre Public Relations