August 12, 2003

Reorganization of the Mental Health Crisis Services

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority today announced a reorganization of its community-based mental health crisis services. The move follows a request by the Salvation Army to cease delivery of those services. A joint team to facilitate a smooth reorganization and ensure no disruption of service has been struck. Communication with the unions is ongoing.

Major Wilbert Abbott, Salvation Army Divisional Commander said the move is best for all involved.

"From our perspective, it is felt that the Winnipeg operation, both for clients and staff, would best be served by being more closely associated with the other regional units under the Regional Health Authority rather than in isolation with us, as will be the case in November." As of November 1st, both the Brandon and Interlake Regional Health Authorities are assuming direct management of their mental health crisis units from the Salvation Army.

WRHA Vice President Real Cloutier said Salvation Army has provided an invaluable service over the past few years and established a solid foundation upon which the WRHA can build. He said the reorganization will result in enhanced services for WRHA clients.

As well, he said the WRHA is committed to offering employment for all permanent frontline staff that will be affected by the reorganization. "These are valuable employees and we are committed to finding positions for them within our system."

Cloutier said the reorganization coincides with the WRHA's plan to enhance services. He cited the implementation of a brief treatment team in September as one example and the WRHA's enhanced Mobile Crisis Unit.

"Our Mobile Crisis Unit will have more staff which will increase its ability to deal with cases by approximately 25 percent." Cloutier said.

He outlined the reorganization process, saying everything should be in place by spring, and that the availability and accessibility of services will not be affected during the reorganization process.

Reorganization Timeline


- WRHA begins formal negotiations with community partner to expand Crisis Stabilization beds. The Salvation Army continues to staff an eight-person Crisis Stabilization Unit pending the opening of the new beds.


- The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority launches its Mobile Crisis Service. The MCS staff includes an additional daytime team that will increase its capacity by 25 per cent – i.e. approximately 50 more calls per week. The Salvation Army's MCU ceases operations simultaneously. Permanent front-line staff of the Salvation Army MCU have already been offered new positions within the WRHA.

- St. Boniface Hospital makes available two additional swing beds on an as-needed basis.

- WRHA begins planning implementation of brief treatment team.


- WRHA begins implementation of "Shared Care" in five community sites.


- Community partner opens new Crisis Stabilization beds in its facility. Salvation Army ceases operations of its eight-bed facility simultaneously. Permanent front-line staff of the Salvation Army Crisis Stabilization Unit have already been offered positions within the WRHA.

Mental Health Crisis Services

Brief Treatment Clinicians

- Brief Treatment Clinicians are multi-disciplinary mental health professionals who provide short-term support and therapeutic counseling intervention to individuals.

- Brief Treatment Clinicians can provide a bridge to long-term services within the adult mental health system, monitoring and assessment of individuals with outstanding mental health concerns, and follow-up of individuals referred by the Mobile Crisis Unit.

- Brief Treatment Clinicians respond to all referrals in a timely fashion, and will be in contact with the individual requiring services within 24-48 hours of receipt of the referral.

- The Brief Treatment Clinicians will be co-located with the Mobile Crisis Unit in order to enhance continuity of care for the individuals being serviced.

Shared Care

- The Shared Care service delivery model provides an integrated approach to primary care and mental health services through a designated team of the primary care physician(s), an on site mental health counsellor and a consulting psychiatrist. Shared care uses a primary care setting to deliver mental health services.

- The initial plan is to implement the Shared care program in 5 primary care units within the health authority structure.

- Evidence from other jurisdictions in Canada and within research refers to the benefits of Shared Care including improved mental well being and individual capacity for individuals, reduced strain on traditional mental health services, and high satisfaction amongst physicians and counsellors.

- The Shared care model is sanctioned by the Canadian College of Family Physicians and the Canadian Psychiatric Association as an effective, integrated service model.

Crisis Unit (MCU)

The Mobile Crisis Unit is a team of mental health professionals, available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to assist people in the Winnipeg Region who are in mental health crisis.

The unit's main function is to respond in a timely fashion to individuals in a mental health crisis, and to work with the individual and their support system to alleviate the crisis in the least restrictive manner possible.

The unit provides crisis intervention, assessment, and follow-up services.

Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU)

The Crisis Stabilization Unit provides temporary around the clock support to individuals in crisis who require a supportive setting but do not require hospital admission. The unit is in the community and the services are voluntary.

Mental Health professionals are available to provide crisis intervention, assessment, and support. Staff work with the individual in crisis and their support system to ensure that necessary resources can be accessed once they return to the community.

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