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Partnerships and Possibilities

May 2008   


In this Issue

Distress Centre partners
with Ottawa's ACT Team

  • ACTT model
  • June trial project

Telecare Canada and DCO
look at ways to work

  • Historical view 

  • Current situation

Accreditation Working Group
  • Mandate/Purpose

  • Objectives

  • Process 








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Distress Centre partners with Ottawa’s Assertive Community Treatment Team

A recent unpublished survey has caused the Ontario government to reconsider the way Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACTT) provide overnight services across the province.

ACTT’s model of care evolved out of the work of Arnold Marx, M.D., Leonard Stein and Mary Ann Test, Ph.D., in the late 1960s, after observing that traditional outpatient programs were failing to help people with mental illnesses. ACT teams were developed as a mobile resource for mental health service agencies to provide patient-focused, mental health services through multidisciplinary treatment teams. Since then, ACTT has been widely implemented in the United States, Canada and England.

ACT teams are dedicated to providing a support network and rehabilitation for those with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Seventy-five per cent of their services are performed outside of program offices.

According to provincial standards, ACT staff teams require a psychiatrist, a program/administrative assistant, a team coordinator, registered nurses, a social worker, an occupational therapist, a substance abuse specialist, a vocational specialist, a peer specialist as well as other clinical staff. ACTT is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide community and assistance for those needing it.

Charles Laframboise, Executive Director for the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, says, “The recent survey showed that services provided by ACT teams from midnight to eight a.m. do not significantly lessen the number of visits from their clients to the hospital.”

Nevertheless Laframboise personally believes in the importance of ACTT. Full recoveries are rare when dealing with severe mental illnesses yet past extensive research has proven the effectiveness of the ACT model of care. The Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) has identified ACT as an effective and underutilized treatment modality for persons with serious mental illness.

In light of this, Laframboise is overseeing a trial project involving the DC Ottawa team for the month of June. “Due to staff shortages and holidays, we’ve been asked to answer the Ottawa ACT team’s overnight calls over the next few weeks,” he says. “DC Ottawa sees this as a type of pilot project. It’s very informal,” he adds, not wanting to make it more than it is. However, if successful, this project could offer an opportunity for future involvement by other Distress Centres with ACT team clients across Ontario.

Having served for more than 20 years with not-for-profit organizations, Laframboise began working for national governing bodies before joining DC Ottawa. He was appointed to Distress Centres Ontario’s Board of Directors in 2005, and is grateful for the services offered by DCO and the networking tool it provides individual agencies. “Distress Centres Ontario offers a forum through which local centres can exchange ideas for the purpose of better serving the clients who need us.”

One way of better serving these clients, he believes, is through teams like ACT which exist to help keep people living in their homes in the community, rather than the hospital.

The results from the recent provincial survey of ACTT contradict other evaluations performed throughout the years on this research-based program. It is hoped that the pilot project in Ottawa will lead to a closer working relationship between ACT teams and Distress Centres as they help Ontarians living with mental illness.

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Telecare Canada and Distress Centres Ontario look at ways to work together

The first Telecare phone line was started in Sudbury, in 1965, by Rev. D. Bruce MacDougall of St. Peter's United Church. Telecare Canada is affiliated with the LifeLine International movement which was started in Sydney, Australia in 1963 by Rev. Alan Walker, Superintendent of the Central Methodist Mission in Sydney. 

Like Distress Centres in Ontario, Telecare Canada's volunteer-run centres offer non-judgemental listening for people in crisis 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

Ron Walker has been a volunteer with Telecare Orillia for seven years. For the last two years he has also been president of Telecare Canada, a national umbrella organization for eight Telecare centres-seven in Ontario and one in BC. 

At one time, Telecare centres had a stronger Christian focus than Distress Centres but Walker says that this has changed over the last ten years. “There was a time when Telecare was more Christian-oriented, some feel we are still a church organization. If it was true, it is not now. We are not concerned if the caller is of any particular religion or no religion,” says Walker.

Telecare Canada member centres pay an annual accreditation fee. With the fees from the member agencies, Telecare Canada provides group liability and loss insurance to each centre. Telecare Canada also provides member agencies with a national policy and procedure manual and a semi-annual newsletter. The agencies get together once per year for an annual general meeting and every three years LifeLine International hosts a general assembly.

Recently, Telecare Canada and Distress Centres of Ontario (DCO) have been looking at ways to collaborate to serve people in crisis in Ontario. There are no “competing” centres in the same city. The seven Telecare centres are in different cities than the 18 DCO centres—Telecare Brampton and Telecare Cambridge belong to both organizations.

DCO Executive Director, Liz Fisk, recently invited Walker to serve on a joint accreditation committee for the purpose of investigating accreditation  models suitable for accreditation of member agencies in both organizations. Walker says Telecare Canada and DCO are in the process of learning about each other and he expects that there are many ways they can work together. 

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The Accreditation Working Group has been active for several months now to deliver on the requests of the membership voiced at the February Visioning Day.

The committee has several committed members, but would appreciate at least two other centres participation. 

The TERMS OF REFERENCE  outline the objectives, time-frame and outcomes.

MANDATE:   To provide leadership regarding accreditation and best practices in the Distress Centres / Lines environment

PURPOSE:     The Accreditation Committee is a standing committee of the membership of DCO whose purpose is to review and recommend an accreditation structure for Distress Centres Ontario Member Centres for implementation in 2009.

1) Review available and appropriate accreditation models
2) Review available best practice models for telephone support
3) Develop linkages and partnerships with existing accrediting bodies
4) Present a draft accreditation models to DCO member centres (early November 2008)
5) Investigate and secure funding to support movement-wide accreditation
6) Establish a best practices model for Distress Centre / Line service provision
7) Develop an implementation plan for the approved accreditation process

1) Strike a credible accreditation and best practices review Committee
2) Link with the Education Committee, Volunteer Management Committee and other Committees as appropriate
3) Build an implementation framework with time-lines and resource requirements
4) Arrange forums for the structured or free flow of information among member centres regarding best practices
5) Investigate granting and funding agencies and prepare applications for funds; investigate ministry funding for movement wide accreditation
6) Committee will meet at a minimum monthly either by conference call or in person
7) Committee will work in concert with the staff or leadership of DCO
8) Committee will report to the Board of DCO at least semi-annually and to the membership at least yearly

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If you have story idea or wish that a certain topic be reviewed in an upcoming issue of the E News + Views, send an email to .

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Next Issue 

More information

on the

Partnership Toolkit

Ottawa, ON
Nov 7 & 8, 2008
Staff, Volunteers, Board Members and Partners welcome

Theme and Session Information


Crisis Workers Society of Ontario 









September 2008
Toronto, ON

November 7, 2008
Ottawa, ON

Educational Forum
Networking Event
Nov 7 & 8, 2008
Ottawa, ON



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