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SCHR improves depression care

Tools developed to treat depression in Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) and the use of best practices have resulted in a significant improvement in care for rural clients over the past two years.

“The use of a new toolkit for clients, the availability of depression support groups, screening for depression and interdisciplinary care teams are just a few of the ways we have worked to improve treatment for people who live a long distance from more conventional methods of treating depression,” says Marga Cugnet, Interim CEO, Sun Country Health Region.

Some of the new tools were developed by SCHR staff who participated in the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council’s Chronic Disease Management Collaborative II.

Maryfield was one of four SCHR practices to participate in the collaborative. The team based out of this tiny community in the South East developed several tools to improve depression care for their patients.

These tools have since spread to other parts of the Region.

Other health regions in the province have also adopted some of SCHR’s tools.

Health Minister Don McMorris congratulates Sun Country staff for the successful steps they’ve taken to improve patients’ accessibility to mental health care.

“Their innovative approach demonstrates a strong commitment to patient- and family-centred care, and is making a big difference to residents in their region,” he says.

One of the unique aspects of this new treatment regime is the inclusion of an occupational therapist to the treatment team. Traditionally, occupational therapists are not involved in depression care.

In this case, the therapist’s involvement helped to create and sustain the depression support groups in the community and the development of other tools.

Because early intervention is known to improve outcomes, the team began the project by creating information packets for patients with depression. One hundred per cent of the patients also completed the patient health questionnaire depression screening tool, compared with 83.7 per cent in the province as a whole.

The next step was creation of a Depression Self-Management Toolkit that became the patient’s manual for mental health.

That, and the creation of a depression support group, made a big difference.

The Collaborative team is very pleased with their results. Wait lists for depression care with the mental health social worker have been eliminated in the Maryfield area. And they are seeing improved patient outcomes.

“We believe we are on the right track,” said Mrs. Cugnet.

The team presented their methods to the provincial Health Quality Summit in April.  A regional working group for depression has been formed and will focus on spreading its plan to other parts of the health region over the next year.

Posted May 24.

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