Prairies Update: Saskatchewan
Greetings from Saskatoon! Drs. Davidson, Prasad and Thorpe are very excited to welcome Dr. Alanna Baillod to our team of geriatric psychiatrists in Saskatoon. Alanna completed her PGY6 year at the University of Ottawa and returned to Saskatoon in the fall of 2014. This has increased our cohort of geriatric psychiatrists to 4 and has provided opportunities to expand our current delivery of services. As a group we continue to work in collaboration with the Seniors Health and Continuing Care Behaviour Support Team and Mental Health and Addictions Services seniors program community mental health nurses (CMHN) to form the Seniors Mental Health Outreach Team.
Over the past three years we have been focused on developing capacity in long term care. Currently seniors’ health has been identified as a priority within the Saskatoon Health Region and province of Saskatchewan. Members of our team participated in the Provincial Seniors Strategy with the ministry of health to look at improving care for seniors in Saskatchewan. Our team also participated in “Client Service Mapping-Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan-Seniors Mental Health” with the Ministry of Health to review the current and future state of mental health service delivery for seniors with the end deliverable being recommendations to be considered by the Mental Health commissioner. Members of our team are collaborating with Home Care to provide geriatric psychiatry services within the community through a pilot project called “Home First.” The project’s goal is to keep seniors in their home longer with enhanced services from home care, which includes support from the Seniors’ Program Community Mental Health Nurse and a geriatric psychiatrist. This project will be part of a larger “Seniors House Call” project that is focused on Emergency Department flow and reduced wait times.
As we are well below benchmarks for the recommended composition of a geriatric mental health team, we have advocated for increased recruitment of geriatric psychiatrists and increases in staffing for the outreach team with nurses and social work. We have achieved some success as we have obtained administrative support and we developed a centralized intake process to streamline long term care consultations for geriatric psychiatry and the behaviour support team and received an additional 1FTE community mental health nurse.
As a team we are looking forward to expanding clinical geriatric services in the Saskatoon Health Region and continuing the positive momentum of senior leadership and the ministry recognizing the importance of seniors’ mental health.
Marla Davidson MD, FRCP(C) Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan