Interior Health understands frustration of NPD Chief, but believes their program is working
Interior Health understands the frustration of local city police but the health authority believes its current program is working to deal with the emotional disturbed part of the population in Nelson Manager of Mental Health and Substance Use service Chris Huston told The Nelson Daily from his office in Cranbrook.
Huston was responding to recent comments in the media by Nelson City Police Wayne Holland, whose police force has noticed a real spike in calls to people in mental distress.
“Not sure if they’re accusations,” Huston said when asked about claims made by the Nelson Chief of Police.
“Certainly Chief Holland has a particular idea about a program he believes will solve some of the municipal police forces issues around responding to people with emotional disturbances.”
Holland has proposed IH introducing the “Car 87” model, which pairs a police officer with a trained mental health worker.
However, Huston said IH doesn’t believe “Car 87” is a good model and is not workable from a healthcare perspective in Nelson.
“At Interior Health in Nelson we’ve instituted a case management team (Intensive Case Management Program) to try to respond to the needs of this group of people that might have been very resistant to our service in the past.”
Huston said since the program has been implement, the team has shown very good results.
“I don’t think I would say things are okay, I would say that the municipal police force there has a particular issue around the number of calls they’re responding to . . . those calls being labeled as “emotional disturbed persons”,’ Huston said.
“We know in mental health and substance abuse we’ve had an issue around the number of people living in complicated, complex lives . . . living on the street and transitioning between community.”
Huston said Intensive Case Management Program in Nelson, which also operates in Cranbrook, Trail, Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Kamloops and Williams Lake, consists of a social worker, specialized nurse, life skill worker, a nurse practitioner as well as psychiatric specialty support — a psychiatrist supporting the team.
Huston said the team has dealt with 34 people in Nelson area during the past year.
These clients require a lot of support and have very complicated lifestyles with very unique needs sometimes struggling with multiple issues — homelessness, psychiatric issues, substance abuse and other physical complications.
Huston said this particular team in Nelson has responded to little over 1100 visits to these 34 clients over the last calendar year.
“Generally this group of people wouldn’t have been able to engage in the past,” Huston said.
Huston said two other target areas IH is trying to reduce are emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
“We know we’ve reduced emergency room visits with this group by 22 per cent and we know we’ve reduced hospital admissions by 29 percent for this specific group of people,” Huston explained.
However, Huston did admit one flaw of the Intensive Case Management Program is that it’s available Monday through Friday.
“I would think that could be one of the issues as this is only a Monday to Friday service,” Huston said.
“In some of our communities, we’re offering it on Saturday at least during the day.”
“In the evening we know that some of these behaviours may increase and so we rely on our emergency department partners to provide that support as well as the police,” Huston adds.