People in mental health crisis, front-line officers and emergency departments all stand to benefit from a new tool co-developed by CMHA Ontario that can improve the transition of individuals from police to hospital custody.
The provincial government recently unveiled Police-Hospital Transitions: A Framework for Ontario in a joint announcement by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo. This new framework, developed by CMHA Ontario, the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee, as well as other partners provides an outline for effective police-hospital relationship building that streamlines the transition of custody of an individual apprehended under the Mental Health Act.
The framework is accompanied by a toolkit, Tools for Developing Police-Hospital Transition Protocols in Ontario, which includes a series of templates and resources that local police services and hospitals can use to implement the framework.
When an individual in a mental health crisis is apprehended under the Mental Health Act, police take that person to a hospital emergency department. But until now, there has been no official protocol for the transition of care from police to hospital custody. Given the incredible pressures within emergency departments, transitions are often delayed. This is not ideal for: individuals in crisis whose symptoms can worsen; police officers who must legally remain with the person until transfer to hospital custody occurs; and hospital staff who are working their hardest to treat patients.
But as the framework shows, co-ordination and collaboration among police and hospital partners can speed up transitions between police officers and hospital workers, improve the care experience for the individual, protect health care worker and emergency department safety, and allow police to return to providing public safety services in the community.