Emergency Department Diversion
With local emergency departments seeing a dramatic increase in youth with mental health concerns, Lutherwood partnered with Grand River Hospital (GRH) to launch the Emergency Department Diversion Team (EDDT) pilot program. It offers immediate community and respite mental health support for kids who do not require hospital admission and short-term stay beds for children transitioning out of hospital. Despite early successes, government funding ended before the pilot results could be completed. RBC Foundation, Cowan Foundation, KW Community Foundation and GRH funded the pilot while longer-term government funding is sought. More than 200 youth have been referred to services.
Launching Employment Resource Portal During a Pandemic
In the spring, Lutherwood launched a website portal to assist those looking for jobs and employers looking to hire during the COVID-19 pandemic. As our Employment resource centres had closed, staff turned to phones, email and virtual methods to assist clients. It became obvious that we needed a more innovative way to help. The one stop portal at www.BeEmployed.ca includes phone and chat features to get in touch with Employment Advisors, guides on how to apply for government assistance, job search courses and resources, and a current job bank where employers can list openings and job seekers can apply right on the site!
Ending Family Chronic Homelessness
In December 2019, our Families in Transition Team (FIT) ended chronic homelessness (defined as being homeless for over six months) for families in Waterloo Region. This amazing success is a result of collaboration with our community partners (YWCA Emergency Shelter and House of Friendship Supportive Housing Programs). We are now focusing on maintaining this success for family homelessness by re-housing families before they become six-months homeless in our emergency shelter system.
Going Beyond Employment Needs
When someone turns to us for help, our staff naturally want to help in every aspect possible. For our employment staff, it means noticing when clients need more than our employment services. Lutherwood has provided Safe Talk training to all employment staff so they have the tools to recognize the warning signs of suicidal thoughts, and the proper responses to help the individual find appropriate help. We also trained staff to recognize potential victims of human trafficking and what to do if human trafficking is suspected. These two trainings will help us address concerns that come up while delivering employment services through both one-to-one and resource centre services.
Respite for Families in Crisis
Sometimes parents/caregivers and their youth who are experiencing difficulties at home just need a break. Safe Haven Youth Services now has two beds to provide youth with short-term temporary care to help reduce the amount of crisis occurring within the home and connect the youth to appropriate community services. While in respite care, youth are provided with opportunities to learn positive life and social skills which benefit their wellbeing and relationships with their family. Supported by funds donated through the Emergency Department Diversion program, the respite beds have helped 90 youth and their families since its inception a year ago.
Primary Care Clinic Pilot
In March, we completed the first year of this pilot to provide a community-based service option to children, youth and their families who go to their doctor seeking mental health supports. Initially opening in four medical clinics, additional donations with RBC Foundation’s support of EDDT enabled us to add another four locations. The most common concerns presented by patients are anxiety, depression, anger and problems with family dynamics. In the first year, we had 105 referrals, helped 93 children/youth (5-18 years old) access services and have had 100% satisfaction by parents.
Knowing our Clients
Lutherwood and Carizon are working with Capitalize for Kids to improve the service experience for children, youth and families. With a goal to increasing existing service capacity, Capitalize for Kids partners with top companies to design solutions, fund the required changes, and then share what they have learned so other agencies may benefit. Our project helps us by optimizing our client information system to ensure our processes are smooth and efficient, and that we have accurate, accessible data about the clients we serve to improve intake and program effectiveness.
Outplacement supports were provided to several employers over the past year to support employees who were losing their employment due to company closures or downsizing. Employees receive help with resume development, interview preparation, Second Career applications and Employment Insurance. Outplacement supports are provided to employees while still employed to help them quickly transition into a new workplace. Providing outplacement supports at the workplace is convenient and customized and allows us to connect with workers who may not know what services are available to them.
Re-envisioning Service Through COVID-19
While COVID-19 presents many challenges, it also offers us a unique opportunity to re-envision our services and our staff rallied to the call, collaborated on problem-solving and proposed new service delivery options. For the youth who live with us, we incorporated virtual supports to limit the number of people interacting face-to-face. Our community-based mental health services shifted to virtual support wherever possible, with face-to-face options limited to a crisis response. In Housing, many people looking for support do not have cell phones, so TELUS generously donated cell phones for people who are homeless or recently housed so we could provide ongoing support. In Employment, we launched a website to help job seekers as well as employers looking to hire during the COVID-19 pandemic. And our Foundation launched a very successful virtual Steps for Kids fundraiser to support youth. We are proud of how our staff responded to this unprecedented situation.