|The Victoria Police Department established the Victoria Integrated Community Outreach Team (VICOT) in 2007 to provide intensive support to individuals living with persistent mental illness who face multiple barriers to independent living, including substance abuse. These issues often lead to chaotic behavior, resulting in arrest. Specific individuals are targeted to receive support through VICOT based on their elevated use of emergency services (including emergency health care and police services). The VICOT team was formed to address these complex issues by providing clients with access to a team of service providers including nursing staff, outreach workers, social workers, a probation officer, a police officer and a Ministry of Social Development assistance worker.
|VICOT aims to assist individuals living with mental health issues and reduce their reliance on police and emergency service calls and psychiatric acute care.
|The VICOT Annual Report indicates that this initiative has contributed directly to a reduction in the number of police calls. Victoria Police Department statistics for 2011 show that, for VICOT clients, the number of calls decreased by about 805 (an average of one less call per client per month).
VICOT clients remain successfully housed for longer, decrease their use of emergency care facilities, improve their medication compliance, have more opportunities to participate in social activities and groups, and have more opportunities for productive work that builds skills and confidence. They may participate in substance abuse treatment or recovery programs, have increased awareness of harm reduction strategies and have better access to mental health supports. Perhaps the most important indicator that clients are seeing improvement in their lives is that they have increased capacity to build and maintain healthy relationships with others.
|The Vancouver Island Health Authority provides permanent funding for this initiative. The funding pays for five staff members, office space and supplies. Partner organizations each contribute appropriate staffing.
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