Collaborating Toward a New Model for Integrated Mental Health and Addictions Care in Ontario

For the past two years, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has coordinated the Mental Health and Addictions Funding Initiative on behalf of the Hospitals Advisory Committee (HAC), with the goal of exploring funding approaches that support and incentivize improved quality of care for Ontarians.

In March 2022, the OHA hosted an information session attended by over 350 senior administrative leaders, clinical leaders, and direct patient care providers from hospitals and community service organizations, providing an overview of the work to date. Previous Health System News articles in March 2021 and February 2022 provided progress updates on the initiative's initial focus on inpatient activity related to people living with schizophrenia, with the goal of linking its hospital-based quality standard to funding.

Hospital-based care is an important starting point, but the plan was always to build on that work to include community-based care and link improvement efforts and funding to quality throughout the entire patient journey. That's why it is so exciting to be kicking off the Schizophrenia Integrated Care Initiative. In this next stage, the initiative will explore approaches that bridge the hospital-based and community-based quality standards for schizophrenia care.

Toward High-Quality Integrated Care Along the Entire Patient Journey

This next phase of work will engage four existing integrated care networks, leveraging their clinical and administrative expertise to encourage seamless transitions in care for people living with schizophrenia. The four participating prototypes are: the Greater Hamilton Health Network, Southlake Community OHT, Central Ontario Health Team for Specialized Populations, and a partnership between Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, the Canadian Mental Health Association Durham and Scarborough Health Network.

This work is an important first step in the development of an integrated care model for mental health and addictions that uses funding as a lever to incentivize improvement – the first time this approach has been explored at a system-wide level in Ontario. Recommendations around a potential funding model will be shared with HAC, which is co-chaired by representatives from the OHA, Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health. The goal is to create a value-based model, encompassing the elements of performance management, reporting, accountability, and especially quality improvement. 

What Matters Most to People Living with Schizophrenia and Their Loved Ones

In addition to mental health experts working in the field, the initiative is engaging people living with schizophrenia and their loved ones, to learn about what's most important to them.  At an engagement session in May, an enthusiastic and diverse group of partners with lived experience provided insight to inform the selection of specific quality statements that should be addressed during the initiative. Further sessions will be conducted over the course of the initiative to understand how it can be most meaningful to both people with lived experience and care providers.

This project engages providers in community mental health and hospitals, as well as partners with lived experience. Its emphasis on collaborative spirit enables a strong and sustained focus on considering both what patients and caregivers need when they are in the hospital setting and when they receive care in the community. As Ontario continues its progress towards integrated care, the Schizophrenia Integrated Care Initiative could become an important building block, with learnings that could be applied to other mental health or chronic conditions. Please stay tuned for further updates as the work continues.

Learn more about the Mental Health and Addictions Funding Initiative. With any questions, please contact ​