During Mental Health Week, VCH celebrates all mental health care providers, and highlights some of the programs making a difference to clients including those based out of the Joseph and Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre.
The Segal Centre, located at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), provides care for people with mental health and/or substance use challenges, and consolidates inpatient and outpatient services to provide clients with the treatment, programs and skills to resume life in the community.
Two of the programs based out of the Segal Centre are Car 87 and the Assertive Outreach Team (AOT). Both are partnerships with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) that operate in the community and work in collaboration with both the acute and community systems.
Car 87, a mobile team that drives to a client's location, recently doubled its size and launched a direct phone line system. The team provides rapid, in-the-moment responses to those who are in a mental health and substance use crisis. Staff use the least intrusive resolution for each situation to reduce admissions to hospital, to keep people in their community and to provide support to those making referrals. Early intervention often reduces unnecessary admissions to hospital and can lead to better overall outcomes.
Referrals for Car 87 services may come from police (patrol and 911 dispatch), community partners, hospitals, and housing providers by way of the direct phone line system. The Access and Assessment Centre (where people in need of urgent mental health services can go or call) can also contact the car directly if they receive a call from a client or family member of someone in crisis. With these two access points, there is a better opportunity to connect a client with the most appropriate services.
“We value the police partnership enormously because it allows us to reach out to clients where they happen to be," says Robert Bush, Operations and Program Lead – Mental Health and Substance Use, Acute, Urgent and STAT Centre.
Another program, AOT, primarily serves as a transition, bridging and stabilization team for adults identified during recent visits to an emergency department or contacts with police as possibly suffering from moderate to severe mental health challenges and/or co-occurring substance use issues. Team members provide care on an outreach, short-term basis until a client is connected to appropriate community services. AOT may be involved with clients for a longer duration when gaps in care may result in undue risk to the client.
Adrian Altman, Manager of AOT and Car 87 notes the passion of the staff. “For a lot of them, it's not just a job, but rather a calling. They do this work because they love it. They're all very client-centred and constantly advocate on how to better improve outcomes for our clients," he says, adding that the teams could not do their jobs without the police partnership and physician coverage.