More Than Health Care: John’s Story
At the age of 11, grade 7 student, John, refused to go to school and was violent with his mother.
Local police were called to investigate and found much more than a troubled child. They found the home cluttered and unkempt, with no food in the fridge.
Upon speaking with John’s mother, Mary, they learned she had accessed health and social services in the community yet she was not following through with her primary care plan and was not properly taking her medication.
Mary was also drinking heavily and she was sleeping for days at a time. Family members would often call 911 for assistance.
Because of his mother’s state, John was not being cared for or fed regularly. John had also been missing school often and when he did attend, he required a teddy bear or another comfort item. John was clearly struggling with his own mental health concerns and, in addition to being aggressive, he expressed hatred for his mother and had suicidal thoughts.
Officers knew that this family needed a collaborative response that incorporated the services of multiple agencies.
Years ago, getting support from all these agencies would have been time consuming and difficult for Mary and John. However, in 2014, the Waterloo Wellington LHIN partnered with the Waterloo Regional Police Service, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Langs Community Health Centre to establish a Connectivity Table in Cambridge. Based on successful programs in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Connectivity Tables bring together representatives from across all public service agencies to build on and enhance collaborative relationships in the community and develop early intervention strategies for at-risk residents.
Mary and John’s story was brought forward to the Connectivity Table. After a seven minute conversation, the Connectivity Table members put a plan in place to address risk factors of mental health, school attendance, parenting, physical health and addiction and within 48 hours that plan was acted upon.
- A mental health worker met with Mary, coordinated her admission to a hospital and linked her with alcohol treatment and counseling. A care plan was developed and was shared across agencies.
- Family and Children’s Services addressed John’s immediate needs for care. With Mary’s consent, they placed John in a foster home temporarily while his mom worked on her mental health and on parenting issues. The school ensured that John had adequate supports while going through this transition.
- When John does return to Mary’s care, issues of housing, employment and other long-term supports will be determined.
Without Connectivity Tables , Mary’s condition would likely have deteriorated – increasing the complexity of her care and John’s immediate needs for support may have been missed.