HSJCC Info Guide – Strategies for implementing effective police-emergency department protocols in Ontario

In brief

This report offers a summary of the main issues surrounding mental health visits to the emergency department (ED) for individuals who are accompanied by police. It also includes strategies for creating protocols for police and ED personnel to follow, and a list of protocols and resources from across Ontario.

A working group of the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC) gathered the information for this guide through a call for information to police services, hospital staff, and providers of community mental health, addictions, and other human services.

EENet has developed a Research Report Round-up of the report, “HSJCC Info Guide – Strategies for Implementing Effective Police-Emergency Department Protocols in Ontario.”

Research Report Round-ups are brief summaries of research reports, presented in a user-friendly format.

Read it below or download the PDF.

Title and link to report: HSJCC Info Guide – Strategies for Implementing Effective Police-Emergency Department Protocols in Ontario
Author: Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee
Year: 2013
Location: Ontario
Population addressed: Police services, hospital staff, and priority populations including: serious mental illness, developmental disability, acquired brain injury, drug and alcohol addiction, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
Key wordsPolice, emergency department, protocols, mental health, addiction, strategies, justice, wait times, crisis

This guide offers a summary of the main issues surrounding mental health visits to the emergency department (ED) for individuals who are accompanied by police. It also includes strategies for creating protocols for police and emergency department personnel to follow, and provides a list of protocols and resources from across Ontario.

The report highlights that clear and consistent communication between police officers and hospital staff are key to reducing wait-times in the ED. It identifies the following important strategies:

  • Build strong relationships between police and hospitals;
  • Provide training for police and hospital staff on how to handle mental health crisis situations;
  • Police officers should call ahead to the ED to let them know they’re on their way with a person in crisis;
  • Establish clear lines of communication on arrival;
  • Use a mental health screener form to communicate information about the person in crisis;
  • Arrange a quiet room for visitors to the ED who are accompanied by police;
  • Have adequate staff support to manage mental health crisis situations in the ED;
  • Designate an ED staff to work directly with police officers arriving with a person in crisis;
  • Have a written agreement between the police and hospitals to set out procedures, expectations, and patient rights;
  • Regularly monitor and evaluate protocols and change them when required;
  • Ensure person-centred care.

The guide also provides tips and information on crisis planning, and specific issues that affect interactions relating to children and youth, as well as racialized and aboriginal communities. 

How this report can be used

This guide can be used to help reduce ED wait-times for police officers that accompany individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. It also provides insight into the issues including increased wait-times, and the impact on police services, the ED and, most important, the person in crisis.

Contact person/source: 

Organization: Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee

Email: http://www.hsjcc.on.ca/