Seniors at home remain priority for East Toronto outreach program during COVID-19

The Crisis Outreach Service for Seniors (COSS) program offers a variety of services: mobile crisis intervention and counselling; short-term intensive case management; harm reduction and concurrent disorders service; limited primary care and nursing; mental health and addictions assessment, counselling and referrals.

COSS is a partnership between WoodGreen Community Services, Reconnect Community Health Services, LOFT Community Services, Haven Toronto and South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC). Partnerships also exist for quick access to geriatric psychiatry referrals through Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, and behavioural support through MacKenzie Health.

SRCHC is represented on the COSS East team by Carolyn Pitchot, nurse practitioner, who provides primary-care outreach services to seniors in crisis with mental health and addictions issues. These may include diagnosis and short-term management of dementias.

During COVID-19, COSS has continued to provide in-person outreach to clients across the city. The team has experienced a record number of calls via the Toronto Seniors Helpline after being announced as part of the City of Toronto’s mental health plan.

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), staff visit client homes across Toronto’s east end, Scarborough and North York. Working in partnership with COSS social work and clinical psychiatry resources, the nurse practitioner addresses issues such as chronic disease management, drug reconciliation and prescribing, referral to specialists and hospitals, and the transition to an appropriate primary care provider for continuing care once the client is out of crisis.

This collaborative approach to care meets the needs of many seniors who would otherwise fall through the cracks.