Giving children and youth a voice in the redesign of the region’s health and wellness system
Karen Fleming, Executive Director of Maltby Centre, has a primary focus as a partner of the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Ontario Health Team (FLA OHT) to ensure children and youth have equitable and integrated access to mental health and autism services in the region. But Fleming’s ambitions don’t stop there. In partnering with the FLA OHT, Fleming says she is excited to be working alongside to redesign a better health and wellness system.
“I am really looking forward to a necessary evolution of integrated service design and delivery. To be successful we all need to focus on a lifespan approach to evidence-based design and delivery that optimizes client outcomes, and mitigates health care costs to support a healthy community in our region.”
The Maltby Centre is a community-based organization, designated by the Ontario Province as the lead agency for children and youth mental health in the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington region. The Centre also has workshops and programs for kids, teens and parents and for children diagnosed with autism. The Centre offers mental health services at all of its five campuses, and offers both mental health and autism services at client homes and also partners with schools to work with children and youth.
Fleming says that the redesign of health care must be client-centric focusing on the system as a whole instead of hospital-centric and must include children and youth at every discussion. That means Fleming would like to see children and youth have a voice at the FLA OHT governance table. Some tangible changes are already in the works. The Maltby Centre is part of the FLA Mental Health System Advisory Committee, which brings together organizations focussed on improving mental health and wellness services across the lifespan throughout the region.
“We are making headway through that committee. We will eventually focus on issues from a lifespan perspective, instead of segregating adults, geriatrics and children and youth, recognizing that a lot of issues seen in adulthood actually emerge in childhood. If we can better manage the upstream then downstream there will be less pressure on the system as whole,” says Fleming.
Another tangible step is ensuring organizations like the Maltby Centre are engaging with Ontario Health Teams providing a broader spectrum of team-based health and wellness care. An example of this is the recent collaboration between the Maltby Centre and Family Health Teams. Staff from the Maltby Centre join in mental health rounds with family doctors. This team-based care provides more timely access to services and information required.
“It’s imperative to connect with people where they are at and that is usually not inside a hospital. For us, it’s in the school, it’s at home, or it’s in another community environment,” says Fleming.
There’s no denying Maltby Centre has made an impact in the community, but the Centre is adaptive to looking at challenges in their services and embracing change where needed. In mid-May there were over 450 clients on a waitlist for mental health services with Maltby Centre, but through an innovative program redesign and a commitment from their frontline staff, our waitlist is very significantly reduced.
“I’m extremely proud of the Maltby Centre staff for their resilience, flexibility, adaptiveness and innovation and creativity in service delivery through the pandemic. The pandemic has necessitated for us to look at the way we provide service differently and the staff embraced this challenge successfully and brilliantly.”
Learn more about the Maltby Centre.