August 9, 2019
Ontario Improving Access to Timely Care for Patients in Crisis
Creating Better Police-Hospital Transitions to Mental Health and Addictions Services
In emergency departments across the province, people in crisis are placed under police supervision, often for up to eight hours, until they are admitted under the guidelines set out by the Mental Health Act. Not only can police presence in a hospital be distressing for some patients, police officers are frontline resources that can be better used in their communities, serving the public and not waiting in hospitals. That's why Ontario is encouraging police services and hospitals to work together to improve transitions for patients.
Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, were at Bluewater Health to announce a new police-hospital transition framework and toolkit to support developing better transitions for people experiencing a mental health crisis across Ontario.
"By establishing a clear and consistent process between police services and hospitals, people experiencing a mental health crisis will receive better support for when they arrive at the emergency department," said Elliott. "The new framework will help reduce stigma and support timely access to coordinated, critical services. This is part of our cross-government work to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy."
Developed in collaboration with health care partners and police services, the new framework and toolkit aim to:
- Help people access timely care and protect their privacy
- Decrease transfer of custody wait times so police officers can return to their duties sooner
- Improve patient transfers so hospital staff can better meet their needs
- Build stronger relationships and coordination between hospitals and police services
- Protect the safety and security of vulnerable people, the public and health care workers.
While at Bluewater Health, government officials also celebrated the launch of the Mental Health Engagement and Response Team (MHEART) — a mobile crisis intervention team in Sarnia to help de-escalate high-pressure situations. Nurses specialized in mental health care from the Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent will work with the Ontario Provincial Police, Sarnia Police and Bluewater Health to better support patients access the care they need.
"The police-hospital transition framework will ensure that individuals in crisis receive care faster and police get back on the streets sooner — keeping our communities safe," said Jones. "By working together to develop better processes in both the community and in hospital, with initiatives like the transition framework and MHEART — mobile crisis teams, we can make a difference for those experiencing a mental health crisis. I applaud the Sarnia Police Service and the Lambton County OPP for working with health and community partners to help people in need."
- The new police-hospital transition framework and toolkit were developed in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association – Ontario Division, Ontario Hospital Association, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee to help police services and hospitals establish a joint transition protocol for individuals under the Mental Health Act.
- The Mental Health Act requires police officers to take individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in their custody to be assessed by a doctor, if they are deemed to be at risk of harming themselves or others. This often takes place in a hospital.
- More than 10 police-hospital partnerships in Ontario already have or are in the process of developing a transition protocol.
- Expanding mobile crisis teams across Ontario is part of the additional $174 million the government is investing this year to support patients and families living with mental health and addictions challenges.
- Ontario is committed to invest $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.
For public inquiries call ServiceOntario (Toll-free in Ontario only)