IWK Health Centre improves Mental Health Care

The IWK Health Centre says it’s improving care for mental health patients through a reallocation of resources.

By Braeden Jones

The IWK Health Centre says it’s improving care for mental health patients.

The plan involves prioritizing overnight patients by geography, hiring more clinicians for specialized care, making more resources available for first-time visitors, and reducing service offered on weekends. Their goal is reducing wait times and providing treatment to more people.

Jocelyn Vine, Vice President of patient care, says that the service that the IWK provided in the past was good, but “nowhere near reaching the population that needs the service.”

The IWK says it's taking steps to improve care for mental health workers. (Braeden Jones photo)

“We were doing great but didn’t have the capacity to meet the needs (of the patients).

“That’s where you get into really prolonged wait lists. That’s unacceptable,” says Vine.

This led to a reallocation of resources . It meant hiring more clinicians to implement specialized programming but it meant letting go 22 youth mental health workers.

Vine says, “The resources from that reduction will be used to hire new staff in order to allow us to provide better care in a more timely manner.”

Vine explains that on weekends the majority of youth receiving care wish to be home with families and friends and take a break from treatment. She says that “moving to the 24/5 model over the 24/7 model” was a result of looking at misused resources and seeing that on the weekends there were “a number of youth care workers on and almost no patients.”

“It was not a good use of resources,” she says.

Another example of the way the IWK is bolstering its mental health care offered is by catering more to patients who are coming from outside of the HRM, so that they may take advantage of programming not offered in their home communities. “We want to reserve the overnight beds for those youth who are coming from farther away, or at least give them priority,” says Vine.

In addition to this approach to overnight care, the IWK is working to provide more resources to patients who are new to mental health care. “Most people visiting for the first time, sometimes that’s all they need is a push in the right direction, so we are putting together a lot more to offer them so they can go home and help themselves,” says Vine.

Something that she believes will shorten the wait list even further.

Vine says that the bottom line is that patient care will be improved.

She says, “it’s the best news we’ve had in years.”