Red Deer’s Social Diversion Team responded to nearly 900 events in its first six months.
Launched in January, the team is taking an average of six calls a day, responding to 878 events in six months, said Jeremy Bouw, city safe and healthy communities supervisor. “Each one of these calls represents an event that was diverted from our emergency medical services and policing resources, and also demonstrates our ability to respond to individuals in need with the right resources at the right time.”
When someone is identified who needs non-emergency support, such as those experiencing mental health issues, addictions crisis or homelessness, Red Deer residents can call 2-1-1 and press 2.
Statistics show that the team is having the greatest impact in the city’s downtown core.
“We have had really great feedback from downtown businesses, where a majority of our calls stem from,” says Stephanie MacDonald, Safe Harbour program manager. “The Social Diversion Team has been very effective in both working with the individual to connect them with the resources they need, as well as provide positive outcomes for the businesses that have called us.”
The most common issues the team responds to are related to homelessness, intoxication and mental health. These teams are comprised of a licensed practical nurse and a social diversion specialist and are uniquely prepared and qualified to provide support to these issues. The team connects people with the social services they need, such as housing supports, mental health supports, detox programs and harm reduction resources.
“When we launched this program, our goal was to improve community safety by providing a broader spectrum of supports,” says Bouw. “In reviewing the six-month data, it has been demonstrated that the Social Diversion Model has been successful in supporting first responders, the business community, citizens, and the individuals in crisis.”
The program utilizes the 2-1-1 service for dispatch and contracts personnel through Safe Harbour. While the social diversion team’s hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 2-1-1 responds to calls any any time of day and they are referred to the proper agency for response.
For more information about the Social Diversion Team, visit www.reddeer.ca/211.