Every Tuesday they meet with one mission on their minds.
The Oxford Situation Table, comprised of 19 area organizations, wants to stop something very bad from happening to local residents at risk of repeated police visits, hospitalization, severe injury or even death.
“The value of the Oxford Situation Table is we’re able to look at whole person and connect them to services that are meaningful in reducing elevated risks that threaten individuals, the community or families,” said Giselle Lutfallah, who co-facilitates the group with Const. Tyler Allard of the Woodstock Police Service. “It has increased partnerships and collaborations amongst our community partners and allows us to look at potential partners for working together.
“It has also assisted in looking at the gaps in our system and addressing those gaps.”
The people they help could be experiencing mental health issues, homelessness or involved with the criminal element or drugs.
The most common age group for the situation table was 12-to-17 year olds. Fifty-six per cent of those assisted were male and 43 per cent were female.
Michelle Worsfold, director of mental health services for Woodstock Hospital, has been a member of the steering committee for the situation table since its inception.
“We often see people in crisis, through the emergency room, the walk-in clinic or inpatient unit,” Worsfold said. “There are often partners involved we don’t know about. It’s really important (to us) to have a network.
“It’s bigger picture thinking and allows us to be creative and innovative and look at solutions through a different lens.”
The development of the situation table, formerly known as Connectivity, began in May of 2014 as a pilot project and was facilitated by the Ingersoll Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic.
A situation table was deemed appropriate based on police reporting a steady increase in calls for service in areas of domestic violence, mental health and social disorders.
Overall statistics suggest police often originate discussion at the situation table, and also assist in interventions.
Woodstock police Chief Bill Renton said local police have witnessed the success of the table “in our calls for service in regards to dealing with specific individuals.”
“Sitting on the steering committee has been such a positive experience,” he said. “Working with true professionals in such a collaborative manner has certainly broken down historic barriers and produced incredible results in terms of immediate and appropriate assistance.”
From November 2014 to December 31, 2017 the Oxford Situation Table met 103 times and heard 221 situations, addressing between one and six situations per meeting.
In 159 situations, the overall risk to client was lowered because clients were connected to services.
Top ten collaborating agencies include Oxford OPP, CMHA Oxford, CAS Oxford, Woodstock Police Service, Oxford Community Health Centre, Addiction Services of Thames Valley, Woodstock General Hospital, Oxford-Elgin Child and Youth Centre, Oxford County Human Services and Home and Community Care of Southwest Oxford.
Situation tables are currently being implemented across Ontario under the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.