Toronto October 19, 2018 – Toronto's first Community Paramedic-Led Clinic partnership is celebrating a year of success in providing mental and physical health support for seniors and isolated Toronto residents with complex needs. The clinics are hosted in Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) buildings and staffed by a partnership of experienced mental health and community support agencies.
The program launched last November after the City of Toronto approved its Paramedic Service to expand its community outreach and community care programs. The weekly drop-in clinics are funded by the Central East Local Health Integration Network. Four community clinics each attract a hub of local residents, and a fifth clinic launched in Etobicoke this fall.
The first clinic clearly demonstrated the need for the service when an elderly tenant in one of the TCHC buildings, 50 Tuxedo Court, arrived to have her blood pressure taken by paramedics. The tenant was immediately sent to a hospital by ambulance as she was experiencing chest pain. Having a paramedic and two community health providers on-site provided immediate access at this critical time, and proved the necessity of such a program to vulnerable tenants.
Clinic partners will hold an open house on October 25 during Community Health and Wellbeing Week in Ontario to mark the anniversary of this successful model. The partnership is comprised of Toronto Paramedic Services, TCHC, Hong Fook Mental Health Association (a leading ethno-cultural community mental health agency with a continuum of services to improve the lives of Asian and other communities), and Cota (a non-profit accredited community-based organization that supports adults with mental health and cognitive challenges).
According to Toronto Paramedic Services, the goal of the Community Paramedic-Led Clinic partnership is to bring primary care and community services to the doorstep of seniors and vulnerable tenants so that they can receive prompt physical and mental health assessments and counselling. "These clinics demonstrate the next phase of providing outstanding medical care to allow Toronto residents to remain in their homes and to proactively manage their health and wellness," said Jennifer Shield, Deputy Chief, Community Safeguard Services.
"Seniors simply walk to their recreation room once a week and they can have their blood pressure tested, consult with a mental health geriatric worker, and be linked with further testing or services they need, without having to find a family doctor," says Bonnie Wong, Executive Director of Hong Fook Mental Health Association, a founding partner in the innovative program.
"The CPLC has introduced valued primary care and follow-up supports to tenants of these buildings. It is an example of an innovative model that is making a difference and one which holds promise for replication at other TCHC sites," said Cota Executive Director Paul Bruce.
This unique program allows vulnerable tenants, some of whom turn to 911 for lack of alternatives, to know they're being heard, and will be linked to community programs, including Hong Fook mental health services, Cota social services, diabetes referral, or Meals on Wheels. TCHC community services specialists help vulnerable tenants participate in the clinics, and also arrange to publicize the clinics to tenants in multiple languages.
Appointments are not necessary. In fact, to keep things informal, the clinic team will usually walk about the building when they finish setting up the clinic equipment for the day to remind tenants about the clinic and cordially invite them to drop in and have their blood pressure checked. Clinic community-paramedics and geriatric social workers can also refer tenants to community programs to address specific health issues, such as diabetes.
"This new linkage with paramedic and community mental health organizations is ground breaking, and represents a new way forward for social housing, and health and community services to work more closely than ever toward healthier communities," said Angela Cooke, TCHC's Vice President of Tenant and Community Services.
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The one-year anniversary of the Community Paramedic-Led Clinic will be held at 50 Tuxedo Court, and media are invited to meet with residents and speak to Hong Fook, Cota, Toronto Paramedic Services and TCHC representatives from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday October 25, 2018. Tuxedo Court Village apartments are north of Ellesmere Road, and just east of Markham Road.
Kim McKinnon, Toronto Paramedic Services
Daniele Gauvin, Toronto Community Housing
(647) 881-5093; or call the media line: (416) 777-1352
Sunny Wang, Hong Fook Mental Health Association
(416) 493-4292 ext. 2258
Jennie Hawking, Cota
(416) 785-9230 Ext. 4620
- Ontario's first Community Paramedic-Led Clinics support mental and physical health of isolated tenants.
- The clinics are tailored to tenant needs, and take into account the health profiles, language needs, and demographics of tenants in each community served.
- Toronto Paramedics approached TCHC with the idea of targeting help for tenants, after noticing some tenants reaching out to emergency services.
- The Community Paramedic-Led Clinics are intended to support elderly tenants, tenants living without family or with few supports, tenants identified by TCHC as needing community support, and tenants identified by paramedics as candidates for closer monitoring.
- The clinics are led by Toronto Paramedics and hosted by Toronto Community Housing. They are supported by case managers from two experienced community mental health agencies. Cota is an accredited, not-for-profit, community-based organization that has been supporting adults with mental health and cognitive challenges to live well within their communities for 45 years. Hong Fook Mental Health Association is a leading ethno-cultural community mental health agency with a continuum of services to improve the lives of Asian and other communities.
- The clinics have been successful in empowering the residents to proactively manage their physical and mental health and wellness. A key foundation to wellbeing is health care, including connections to family, to the community, and other wellness components.
The goals of the clinic are:
- Providing medical support
- Checking blood pressure and other vitals
- Conducting safety checks
- Providing education on medication management
- Conducting educational workshops
- Connecting individuals to support services such as counselling, financial management, and social/recreational activities.
Clinic days and locations are as follows:
- Tuesday: 10 Glen Everest Rd, 10am-3pm
- Wednesday: 20 Gordonridge Place*, 10am-3pm
- Thursday: 50 Tuxedo Court, 10am-3pm
- Friday: 20 Gordonridge Place*, 10am-3pm. *This clinic is located inside a community centre which serves three buildings: #10, #30, and #40 Gordonridge Place.
- Monday: 41 Mabelle Avenue, Etobicoke (Islington-Bloor). This clinic is offered by Toronto Paramedics and TCHC only.
Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TorontoComms, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.
About Hong Fook Mental Health Association
Established in 1982, Hong Fook Mental Health Association is the leading ethno-cultural community mental health agency with a continuum of services to improving the lives of Asian and other communities. Hong Fook provides a variety of integrated primary & mental health programs and services to the broader community to improve the mental health system through service collaboration and coordination in the community. Hong Fook's participation in the paramedic-led clinics is funded by the Central East Local Health Integration Network.
Cota is an accredited, not-for-profit, community-based organization that has been supporting adults with mental health and cognitive challenges to live well within their communities for the past 45 years. Cota offers a wide range of services to adults living with serious mental illness, geriatric mental health conditions, acquired brain injuries, developmental disabilities and dual diagnoses. Their services include on-site supports to people at 220 Oak St. (another Toronto Community Housing site), case management, supportive housing, short-term residential beds, day programs, court and justice related services, an emergency department diversion service, interdisciplinary and assertive community treatment team (ACT) services, and supports for individuals who are experiencing and/or transitioning out of homelessness.
About Toronto Community Housing
Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider. TCHC is owned by the City of Toronto and provides homes for nearly 60,000 low- and moderate-income households in more than 100 of the city's neighbourhoods. Toronto Community Housing's 2,100 buildings represent a $10-billion public asset. To support vibrant communities, TCHC works with partners to link tenants to Toronto's network of community health, social and economic services.