Seasonal Community-Based Projects
Our seasonal community-based projects, also known as "community surge", take place during the cold winter months and holiday season. They aim to maintain our collaborative COVID-19 response while addressing pressing community health needs that emerge or are worsened during this time of year, which typically sees an increased demand for health, social and community services.
As a result, East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) works proactively every winter to increase capacity and local access to health, social and community services through a number of collaborative initiatives. This helps people in East Toronto achieve better health outcomes by ensuring they can receive the right care in the right setting.
For the 2021-22 season, our initiatives aim to streamline the way people get care, including youth, mental health and substance use services; better connect people to primary care; and support the vital work of caregivers – all while keeping local residents as close to home as possible. Learn more about these community surge initiatives below.
Improving access to mental health and substance use care and coordination
St. Michael’s Homes, WoodGreen Community Services, South Riverdale Community Health Centre and Michael Garron Hospital are increasing access to in-person and virtual harm reduction and substance use services in Taylor-Massey. This helps improve addiction treatment system navigation and transitions for local residents through an interdisciplinary community outreach addictions team.
The goal is to provide culturally safe and interdisciplinary team-based care to prevent overdoses, help with treatment barriers and provide smooth transitions to harm reduction and substance use treatment services, including withdrawal management. This initiative builds on ETHP’s established Comprehensive Care and Integration (CCI) Specialist Team and aligns with the Ontario Health Team’s (OHT) Taylor-Massey Healthy Communities work, which aims to improve access to care in a neighbourhood that has heightened health needs and high rates of suspected opioid overdose calls in East Toronto.
Developing a primary care centre in Taylor-Massey
WoodGreen Community Services, East Toronto Family Practice Network and other partners are developing a primary care centre in Taylor-Massey to improve access to integrated health and community services. This helps connect local residents with healthcare professionals who can provide comprehensive medical care in a place that is close to home and considers clients’ physical, emotional and social well-being.
The development of this primary care model is based on ETHP’s Taylor-Massey Healthy Communities Report, which found that many residents in Taylor-Massey are unattached to primary care and there is a desire among local residents and service providers for a more connected system of care. The goal is to improve access to primary care and interprofessional resources, as well as client and caregiver experiences. Local clients, caregivers and community members will be engaged in the co-design of the centre to ensure it meets the needs of the neighbourhood.
Increasing access to caregiver supports
WoodGreen Community Services is working with local grassroots organizations to better connect caregivers from diverse communities with services and resources they or their loved ones may need. Together, these partners are conducting outreach to caregivers, facilitating workshops and translating existing resources into the appropriate languages so caregivers from all communities in East Toronto can better access them.
This helps service providers better understand the needs of caregivers in East Toronto and allows our partnership to better support caregivers while addressing financial, cultural and sociodemographic barriers that may prevent them from accessing the services and resources that are available to them.
The initiative leverages existing programs at WoodGreen, including the Enhancing Social Inclusion in Ethno-Cultural and Diverse Communities Program, the Diverse Caregiver Access Project and the Caregiver Support and Wellness Program. In addition, it is supported by ETHP’s Caregiver Advisory Group.
WoodGreen, The Neighbourhood Group and Michael Garron Hospital have also relaunched the Caregiver NICE Fund. This fund provides small amounts of funding for basic necessities or other supports for local caregivers where no other funding sources are available or have been exhausted. The funding can either be for something that directly supports the caregiver or can be something that supports the person they provide care for – the intention is to provide whatever can help decrease caregiver stress and burnout.
Funds are meant to be easier and quicker to access in comparison to other supports. Funds are generally small amounts meant to address simple, low-cost needs. Historically, amounts funded range between $20 and $1,500, and are dependent on the type of intervention needed.
ETHP organizations applying to the fund will need to seek their clients consent to share the personal health information in an online application form and consent to track their healthcare journey for evaluation purposes. Applications are now being accepted.
Improving primary care capacity
Primary care partners, including East Toronto Family Practice Network, are conducting a pilot project that will allow about 50 family doctors in East Toronto to refer their clients to Albany Medical Clinic when they are not available. When a client is referred to Albany, Albany will provide the client’s service information to the referring physician, ensuring connected and continuous care.
This helps clients better access primary care during “after hours” when their family doctor is not available. It also helps divert clients from hospital emergency departments and allows primary care providers to work together across sites to improve the care experience for clients.
In addition, our primary care partners are working to develop a primary care model for East Chinatown. This model will help connect clients, many of whom are Cantonese- or Mandarin-speaking seniors, with family doctors if the client’s existing family doctor has retired or will soon retire.
As a first step to building a primary care model in this neighbourhood, this project involves a comprehensive consultation with family physicians and health and social services providers in the community, as well as members of our Primary and Community Care (PCC) Response Teams; the collection and evaluation of population health data; and engagement with local clients and caregivers to determine.
This consultation helps determine what services and supports need to be a priority in a primary care model to improve health in the East Chinatown community. The recommended model will be developed collaboratively using an expedited timeline. This helps improve access to primary care in the neighbourhood.
Developing an integrated youth hub in Thorncliffe Park
ETHP’s Youth Mental Health and Wellness Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from organizations like TNO – The Neighbourhood Organization, Strides Toronto and WoodGreen Community Services, is co-designing and building a youth hub in Thorncliffe Park that will serve as a one-stop shop for youth services in the community.
The hub will offer services related to mental health, substance use, primary care, education, employment, training, housing and other community and social services. These services will be co-located and integrated to ensure a seamless and accessible experience for local youth.
The initiative helps address the diverse needs of youth in a priority neighbourhood in East Toronto, particularly when it comes to improving mental health outcomes during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This means issues experienced by youth can be addressed sooner by the right provider in the right place at the right time. The initiative also builds on the success of ETHP’s existing youth hub on Danforth Avenue.
The Thorncliffe Park youth hub will be co-designed with engagement from local youth and ETHP’s Youth Advisory Committee. It will also be supported by partners like YouthLink Services, Turning Point Youth Services, LOFT Community Services, SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health, Mental Health Toronto and Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario.