The Saskatchewan RCMP have announced the addition of two registered psychiatric nurses to its Operational Communication Centre (OCC) to assist RCMP officers in real time during mental health interventions with the public.
This collaboration between the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and the Saskatchewan RCMP aims to provide people in crisis with the right response at the right time.
“We hope the addition of these two psychiatric nurses to our Operational Communication Centre gives us the opportunity to demonstrate an increase in de-escalated crises, referrals to community resources, healthcare follow-ups, and cases diverted from emergency rooms and police cells,” says C/Supt. Bangloy, Officer in Charge of Saskatchewan RCMP Criminal Operations Department.
How can they assist? The nurses, both trained in psychiatric care, will provide mental health crisis intervention, assessment, support, recommendations, information and referrals to people in Saskatchewan who are experiencing a mental health and/or addiction crisis.
The two nurses offer a wide range of expertise in areas such as adult and adolescent psychiatry, youth detox, inpatient and outpatient mental health care, community mental health, crisis intervention and stabilization, and addictions services, among others.
How will it work? If a police officer responds to a call where it is believed the subject is experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis, the officer can enlist the assistance of the nurses. The nurses will speak with the officer directly prior to speaking to the individual in crisis. Together - the individual, the nurse and police – will determine the appropriate care pathway. It is important to note that this is a generalization and the course each situation takes will vary depending on a wide variety of factors.
“The strength of the program is the consultation and partnership with the RCMP and the link with a mental health professional,” said Reggie Jackson, Manager of Inpatient Unit and Intensive Services in Mental Health and Addictions for the SHA. “RCMP officers are often the initial points of interaction with people struggling with mental health and/or addictions issues and the goal of the pilot project is to provide these people with timely access to mental health expertise, through that first point of contact. Then, our nurses will help them to navigate and connect to other community resources based on the individual’s need.”
The nurses are located in the OCC at Saskatchewan RCMP Headquarters in Regina and are available to officers in all RCMP jurisdictions in Saskatchewan, except where and when Police and Crisis Teams (PACT) are in operation (currently in North Battleford, Yorkton, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and soon to be in Estevan).
“This program is modelled after the province’s Police and Crisis Teams (PACTs), an initiative that aims to create a better outcome for individuals and families living with mental health issues,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote, Health Everett Hindley said. “This innovative approach will help RCMP officers respond to calls for police services where mental health or substance use or misuse is a factor.” PACTs are a collaborative effort between the SHA and police services in the province. Officers are paired with a mental health professional to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The goal is to provide the right kind of care to people within the community, thereby avoiding emergency department visits and entry into the criminal justice system.
“Saskatchewan police services strive to support and protect citizens. This includes assisting individuals who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. The addition of two new psychiatric nurses will enable the RCMP to help vulnerable citizens with compassion and care,” says Christine Tell, Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety.
How will personal information be protected? The Saskatchewan Health Authority and Saskatchewan RCMP will not share their respective information systems. Together, a procedure was developed to keep police, medical and personal information private. Information will only be shared verbally and interventions will be conducted in accordance with the Saskatchewan Health Information Protection Act (HIPA) and the Canadian Privacy Act. The ultimate goal is to share the least amount of information possible but share enough to better support the health of people in crisis and get them the assistance they require.
Having the nurses in the Saskatchewan RCMP’s OCC is a 12-month pilot. Their first shifts were last Monday (May 31, 2021).