A nurse checking blood pressure of a patient

About Health Access St. James Town

What is Health Access St. James Town

Health Access St. James Town (HASJT) is a pioneering community-based model of localized service coordination and collaboration, where highly skilled and friendly intake workers connect residents to health and social services of 15+ different partner organizations and beyond, through a single intake process.   This intake happens at The St. James Town Community Corner (The Corner) and 5 other sites in the St. James Town neighbourhood.

The Corner, an inclusive community hub, is the primary site from which HASJT operates. This has strengthened the this localized model with The Corner being the “hardware” and HASJT, the “software”.

Our Commitment

The Health Access St. James Town Leadership Table of 15+ organisations co-chaired by Sherbourne Health and The Neighborhood Organisation has made a commitment that residents of St. James Town will be meaningfully connected to services that they need within two business days.

Our History

A fire devastated one of the largest Toronto Community Housing buildings in the neighbourhood in 2010.  During this period, it was identified that many residents struggled with having their various needs met –prescription refills, support for mental health, housing and accommodation support, food security, income support etc.  This highlighted a gap in service coordination although there were many service organisations in the neighbourhood.

The Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network worked with a group of service providers to address this gap and support the creation of a service coordination model that would help people to be meaningfully connected to services in a localized and expedited manner.  There were numerous consultations with the community to understand their needs better and determine the model of service coordination. The Health Access St. James Town model was piloted in 2013 and was consolidated in 2014.

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How The Model Works

One evening around 6 pm, a resident walks in to The Corner looking for support services for himself and the family members.  He is greeted by the lobby worker at the front desk and given an introduction and orientation to all programs available at The Corner. He is then referred to the Health Access intake worker who is onsite.

The client and his family have claimed asylum in Canada four months prior and he is looking for assistance to apply for a work permit. He was a chef in his country of origin and he wants to continue to work as a chef in Canada. His plan is to follow a course on culinary sciences and find a job in the same field.

During the intake assessment he shared that one of his children is struggling with some medical issues and the family has been struggling to adjust to the new environment.  They are finding parenting in Canada a challenge.

Through a single intake, the worker makes a referral to three services – to TNO for settlement services and help to apply for a work permit, finding out how to apply to college and for child care benefit, to Sherbourne Health for primary care for his child and his family and to SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health, Prevention and Early Intervention services for the family to get support on parenting, family counseling and support group programs.  An advantage is that many Health Access Partners also provide services onsite at The Corner in addition to their primary locations of service.

The client is also able to register his kids for arts and crafts and other fun activities at The Corner which have been led by volunteers in the community.

Health Access St. James Town Partners

Other Initiatives by HASJT

Spring Gathering

This is an annual community consultation event led and hosted by HASJT, in partnership with the St. James Town Service Providers’ Network and community residents.  There is a planning committee of residents and service providers that coordinate all aspects of the event which happens at the local school in the neighbourhood. Issues, concerns, and community assets are discussed in detail through facilitated table discussions in various languages (Tamil, Spanish, Tagalog, Arabic, Mandarin, English, etc.). Through these discussions, the community of residents, service providers and other stakeholders develop plans of actions to address concerns and utilize our collective assets. The event is also an important time for community to connect with one another, celebrate milestones and progress made throughout the years. 

Community Supports following a Crisis

HASJT leads and coordinates a community support response in St. James Town after a critical incident that disturbs and affects the psycho-social wellbeing of many residents.  This is not an Emergency Crisis Response Strategy, but a strategy to provide supports to the community in a coordinated manner, after a crisis in the community has occurred. Supports include, for example, outreach, counseling, referrals, debriefing.  Partner organizations assign contact staff to this protocol and the Health Access Intake Team coordinates the staffing and issues the call-out following a critical incident, including, but not limited to a sudden death, suicide, assault etc., Point staff set up outreach spots/tables in affected building’s lobbies 48-72 hours after the crisis. Grief counselling support is should be focused on connecting 1:1 to residents who have been directly affected.