Two integration case studies were presented in a webinar hosted by Community Health Ontario on April 15, the first event in a three-part series. Close to 70 participants heard two stories from opposite ends of the spectrum — a collaborative alliance in the South West LHIN, and a full merger in Toronto Central LHIN — followed by an informative Q&A session. Catherine Hardman, executive director of Choices for Change, presented the first case study, an overview of the Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health Alliance. Established in 2012, the Alliance brings together six agencies serving adults in Perth and Huron counties. Aspiring to the best of both worlds (“agency independence with the benefits of partnerships”), Alliance members developed a set of core principles and share a compelling common goal: better service to clients. To that end, the agencies participate in joint staff training, collaborate to design and implement service integration strategies, and simplify the process of seeking services by offering one point of access.
The second case study provided insight into the merger of Dixon Hall and Mid-Toronto Community Services in January 2014. Kate Stark and Kaarina Luoma, executive director and associate executive director of the new Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, reflected on the multi-year process they undertook to prepare. Among the lessons they learned: the legal process is the easy part, while the hard work is in sorting out the governance and managing fear of change among the staff. Kate and Kaarina advised that it’s best to change only what is necessary before the merger occurs, and work on other changes as an integrated organization “after the wedding.”
A recording of the webinar is now available on the Integration Resources website, along with presentation slides from both case studies.
The next webinar in the series, “Lessons Learned: Integration Case Studies from the Community Health Sector,” will feature presentations on the North Simcoe Muskoka Community Support Services Collaborative and the structural merger of CMHA London, WOTCH, and Search to form the new CMHA Middlesex. The event takes place on Thursday, May 21 at 12 noon, and registration is free. Visit the Integration Resources website for details.