In Ontario, a person experiencing a mental health or addictions related crisis may be apprehended by police officers under the Mental Health Act, and subsequently accompanied to a hospital emergency department for assessment and care. This process can have a number of negative impacts on everyone involved. These can include an increase in demands on police and hospital resources, longer wait times, and impact the care of the person in crisis.
In 2012, the Provincial HSJCC began a province-wide project to examine these issues, as well as innovative practices adopted by police forces and hospitals throughout Ontario. A comprehensive HSJCC Infoguide: Strategies for Implementing Effective Police-Emergency Department Protocols in Ontario was created as a result of the project. What became clear was that there was a need for a province-wide framework addressing police to hospital transition practices.
In 2015, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, in partnership with the Provincial HSJCC, and the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, convened a Provincial Task Force comprised of experts from across the healthcare and policing sectors, including the Ontario Hospital Association, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, and several client groups. The Task Force developed a framework, Police-Hospital Transitions: A Framework for Ontario, that was designed to provide police services and hospitals in communities across Ontario with a roadmap to establish effective police-hospital transition protocols.
The model for the Framework is based upon evidence and best practices already happening throughout Ontario, and provides information on how to implement process changes that are intended to:
1) Improve health outcomes for individuals apprehended under the Mental Health Act;
2) Improve transitions between police officers and hospital workers; and
3) Improve coordination and collaboration among partners involved in the transition.
Tools for Developing Police-Hospital Transition Protocols in Ontario is a complimentary guideline, designed to assist with the implementation of the framework. These tools and resources were developed based on existing promising practices in Ontario. They are meant to help police, hospitals and others comply with legal requirements (e.g. as found in Ontario’s mental health, human rights, policing and privacy legislation) and support the adoption of best practices. Many of these tools may be tailored to the specific needs of local communities.
Police-Hospital Transitions: A Framework for Ontario and its associated Toolkit will be publically released in the near future. They will be made available for public viewing via this website. Please check back for updates soon. In order to support adoption of the framework, five educational forums will be held in February and March of 2017. Key stakeholders and decision makers from the policing and healthcare sectors will be invited to participate.