Osler's Mental Health Program never stops pushing boundaries for better care and in 2019-20 launched two new initiatives to support patients and staff – Safe Wards and Stepped Care.

Safer together with Safe Wards

Making mental health units peaceful, friendly and safe for everyone. That's what Safe Wards, a new program rolling out on Osler's mental health units, is all about. The purpose of Safe Wards, which first emerged on the scene in the United Kingdom, is to make units safe for patients and staff by reducing incidents of aggression and violence, reducing the use of restraints and enhancing the opportunity for healing through 10 interventions.

In 2019-20, we launched two of those interventions – Mutual Help Meetings and Clear Mutual Expectations. In Mutual Help Meetings patients and staff come together at least once a week to support each other by sharing a round of thanks, a round of news, a round of suggestions and a round of requests/offers.

Recognizing that conflicts arise from disagreement, confusion, misinterpretation or miscommunication, staff and patients worked together to create a list of Clear Mutual Expectations that apply equally to each group.

To learn a little more about Safe Wards, you can watch our special video blog.

Stepped Care – improving access to care for people living with mood and anxiety orders

For people living with mood and anxiety disorders, timely access to the right care can make all the difference in the world to quality of life.

Osler has one of the largest mental health and addiction programs in the province, supporting 75,000+ people a year, approximately 70 per cent of whom seek help for mood and anxiety disorders.

In the search of a solution, Osler's mental health team discovered Stepped Care – a program with significant success in the United Kingdom. In 2019, the team rolled out Stepped Care at Osler. "Our goal was to increase access to services, reduce wait times, decrease visits to the emergency department, and increase patient and primary care satisfaction," says Faiza Khalid-Khan, Osler’s Director of Mental Health and Addictions. "So far, the Stepped Care approach is living up to its reputation on all fronts, reducing the time to see a psychiatrist from 12 months to four, and access to group services from six months to one-to-four weeks."

The model’s four-step approach matches patient level of need to level of service. "Through Stepped Care, patients can enter the model at the level of service that will best meet their needs," said Carol McCafferty, Clinical Services Manager. "For some, the services in one level might be all they need prior to being discharged from the program, while others may need to move through two or more levels, up or down, depending on how well they are doing."