Faster access to mental health care in Kelsey Trail

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People who need to see a mental health professional in Kelsey Trail are getting attention sooner thanks to recent changes in how the region schedules appointments.

Until recently, many non-urgent patients were waiting at least 16 days from the time they were screened until their first appointment. Although these waits met provincial standards, the region wanted to do better for patients. They set a goal to get all Level 3 and 4 patients their first appointment in less than 15 days.

In October 2014, an improvement team introduced a series of changes as part of a Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) in Mental Health and Addiction Services. By locating a mental health clinician right in the physician clinic during the RPIW, booking clients into the first available appointment with an appropriate clinician, and reducing time and steps in the intake process through the use of electronic faxing, the team shortened waits for Level 3 clients by 42% and for Level 4 clients by 92%.

Thanks to the latter two changes, new clients to Mental Health and Addiction Services now have quicker access to service regardless of their triage level. There is also better continuity, and less opportunity for mistakes in the intake process thanks to electronic faxing. The region is now looking at ways to have a mental health provider working in the primary care clinic on a permanent basis.

“I am excited about the point of care access that patients may now have.”
(Dr. Jordan Wingate)

At the 30-day audit in November, 3.7% of clients were waiting 16 or more days from assessment to first offered appointment. While pleased with what they’ve achieved, the improvement team also recognizes there is more work to do to get that number to zero, and then to hold the gains.

“The change I look the most forward to is the clinicians working out of the clinics because it will centre around client care.”
(Kyle Stroeder, senior clinician, Mental Health and Addiction Services)

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