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Introducing Boyle Street's Interdisciplinary Model of Care

Revolutionizing Care

We are excited to announce that some significant changes are happening at Boyle Street! Starting in October, we are shifting to an interdisciplinary model of care. In short, this model brings staff from multiple disciplines together into one space to form an interdisciplinary team that works collaboratively with the person seeking care to meet that person’s goals.

All our current programs and services will continue to exist within this new model, although how we deliver some of them will be impacted. People will still be able to access harm reduction supplies, see housing workers, get ID, and so on. The core programs making up the interdisciplinary teams will be among the most impacted.

Our drop-in program will look drastically different, as our current drop-in space will be closed in September and re-purposed to facilitate the interdisciplinary model. However, we will be opening new, smaller warming locations across the city - a step toward the decentralization of social services in Edmonton that we have long advocated for.

These changes are a direct result of our unwavering drive to better serve those who access our services.

The Interdisciplinary Model of Care

The Interdisciplinary model of care is composed of a number of key pieces: the interdisciplinary teams, den spaces, auxiliary supports, external supports, and light touch services. Each piece will be explained below - its components, how it works, and how it relates to the rest of the model.

The core of the interdisciplinary model of care are the two interdisciplinary teams, each composed of staff from several programs. The two teams will be supported by various other programs, including our light touch services.

Interdisciplinary Team Model

Each interdisciplinary team will have two adult support workers, one substance use worker (formerly MOAT), a cultural support worker, a nurse, and the den members. The key feature of these teams is that the staff will work together out of the same physical space, which we are calling a den. Each team will have its own den.

A den will have a common area, individual offices, a computer/technology station, and a variety of seating options. Participation in a den will be based on membership, and becoming a member is based on a variety of factors, such as being chronically houseless, being ready and willing to begin working toward (self) set goals, and many others. Members of a den will be able to show up to one space - the den - and work toward their goals.

This is very important. Why? Because we know that those seeking to access care want to be able to walk through the doors, explain their situation to one person, and be guided to the service or services that will best meet their needs.

The way our programs are currently delivered often results in someone going to one office to see a housing worker, then another to see an adult support worker, then another to see a mental wellness worker, going to another to see a nurse, and in each case hoping the worker’s office hours are open, or that they aren’t so busy that they have to come again at another time, or that they are actually the right person for their needs, and so on. Our staff go above and beyond to help people navigate this system, but with our more integrated interdisciplinary model, all that extra work and energy will be redirected into meeting needs more promptly.

We know that timeliness is vital. Many of the people accessing our services are under crisis, and receiving appropriate care right away can be lifesaving.

And quick connections to services are often necessary to sustain hopefulness and motivation - if you aren’t getting anywhere, why try? Few things in life are more frustrating than bureaucratic red tape.

That is why - in addition to the interdisciplinary den spaces - we are also revamping our method of intake by adding a ‘triage’ space. This space will contain our reception, intake workers, a substance use worker, a nurse, Housing Intake, and Youth and young adult workers.

Many people who access our services every day are looking to meet simple needs - make a phone call, print a document, see a nurse, and so on. Our current capacity is based on our entire building, so someone looking to make a five-minute phone call might have to wait in line for a while because the building is full of people looking to meet more time-intensive needs, such as seeing a counsellor. With our triage and den spaces, our capacity will be separately based on those spaces, so the person seeing a counsellor will be part of a den space’s capacity, while a person looking to make a phone call will be part of the triage space’s capacity. We want to connect people more quickly to the specific services they are looking for.

Interdisciplinary Team Practice in Den Settings

Why We Are Making These Changes

Over the past several years, we conducted extensive, formal consultation with our community through feedback sessions and participant surveys. The data highlighted some of the foremost problems facing our staff and community members:

  • Many folks don’t know all the services available to them

  • Community members have consistently told us they don’t want to retell their story - a process that can be traumatic - every time they access a new service or start a new program

  • Our staff and community feel frustrated when they are unable to provide the level of support that is needed

  • Staff feel that they don’t always have the ability to take time away, as they know their absence might negatively affect those on their caseload

  • Some of our programs and services aren’t easily accessible to everyone due to the lack of access in some areas of our current building

  • It is incredibly frustrating and disheartening to wait in line outside our building for hours when all that is needed is to make a quick phone call

These are some of the more consistent and prominent problems we face. In addition to our community consultation, we undertook an exhaustive, thorough, and inquisitive journey to arrive at our eventual answer - an interdisciplinary model of care. We examined best practices within Canada and around the world - from Toronto North Support Services’ Multidisciplinary Outreach Team to the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa’s Wraparound Ottawa program to Hull Services’ High Fidelity Wraparound Program in Calgary to programs in the United Kingdom and Australia. We carefully considered which aspects of these programs fit our context and which didn’t. We read the latest academic research. And most importantly, we implemented interdisciplinary models on a small scale at our Managed Alcohol Program and Youth programs - to resounding success.

Different aspects of Wellness

At Boyle Street, we believe that everyone deserves the full measure of dignity, support, and respect.

We want to facilitate wellness, so that those who access our services need us less and less over time as they meet their goals and grow their connections to their communities.

This interdisciplinary model of care is based on the needs of those we serve and the experiences of our staff, allowing us to deliver holistic care while considering the unique needs of every person.


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