Lawson Innovation Moving into Hospitals Across Ontario

New Project Translates Research Into Better Care for Patients with Mental Illness

October 25, 2012

The Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) has announced that Lawson Health Research Institute will receive funding to implement an innovative approach to patient discharge across Ontario in partnership with nine academic teaching hospitals. CAHO is funding the project under their $6.3 million Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC) program.

The Transitional Discharge Model (TDM) is designed to reduce length of stay and rates of readmission for patients, as well as improve overall outcomes. The transition from hospital to community is complex and can be challenging for people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Recent research shows the first days and weeks following psychiatric discharge are particularly high-risk periods, with 43% of suicides occurring within the first month post-discharge.

The TDM ensures that a seamless safety net exists throughout the discharge and community reintegration processes. Under this approach, hospital staff will continue to provide care until the patient is connected with a community care provider following discharge. Discharged patients will also receive peer support from someone who has successfully integrated into the community after a psychiatric diagnosis.

Dr. Cheryl ForchukThe effectiveness of the TDM was verified by a study led by Lawson scientist Dr. Cheryl Forchuk at four Ontario psychiatric facilities including Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas. In that study, the length of stay was reduced by an average of 116 days per client. This was equal to over $12 million worth of freed bedspace from the 200 intervention group participants in the study compared to the control group. The study also found that the TDM intervention group consumed on average $4,400 less hospital and emergency room services per person in the year after discharge.

"We can increase the quality and efficiency of care dramatically for people with mental illness by using evidence-based approaches to collaboration and coordination between hospitals and community supports," says Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, Project Lead, Lawson Health Research Institute. "We are looking forward to working with the CAHO ARTIC Program as it will accelerate the implementation of TDM across several hospitals, increasing efficiency and improving the care we provide."

"This project underscores exactly why we must continue to invest and lead in hospital-based research here in Ontario. We are making discoveries today that will form the basis of a more effective, more sustainable health care system tomorrow," says Dr. David Hill, Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute.

Currently, 9 hospitals are participating in this program: Baycrest, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Health Sciences North, Hôpital Montfort, London Health Sciences Centre, Providence Care, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, St. Joseph’s Health Care London and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk is a Scientist and Assistant Director at Lawson, where she is currently the Group Leader of Mental Health/Health Outcomes Research. She is also a Professor and Associate Director of Nursing Research at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and in the Department of Psychiatry, the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, both at Western University.

Lawson Health Research Institute
As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care, London, and working in partnership with The University of Western Ontario, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care here in Ontario and around the world.