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Meet Emily Willchuk, Integrated Care Coordinator

Right Care, Right Time, Right Place for People Diagnosed with Schizophrenia
Emily Willchuk
Published Date

Why is the role of a care coordinator so important? In my opinion, it's because we're working to advocate for some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community. People diagnosed with schizophrenia often face high rates of hospitalizations and decompensation in the community. Each time someone with schizophrenia decompensates, they become more unwell and increasingly challenging to treat and support. By actively advocating for their recovery and striving to reduce barriers to care, we're preventing these individuals from falling through the cracks and losing their chance at a meaningful life.

Long hospitalizations and disjointed care can cause patients to lose trust in the system and feel less in control of their recovery. However, by streamlining their admission and access to support, we can build a comprehensive support system that empowers these patients to live their best lives with a safety net to prevent crisis.

As for my background, I'm a registered social worker with over a decade of experience supporting people with diverse biopsychosocial challenges across various demographics. I started my career with a Human Behavioural Science degree from Lakehead University, followed by over five years in the Developmental Services Sector. Subsequently, I joined the Crisis Outreach Service for Seniors team in Toronto, where I provided intensive case management in the community for another five years. I've continued to work with this team in a casual capacity, and my passion for crisis services and community-based practice has only grown.

I completed my Master of Social Work through the University of Windsor's working professional program in 2022. My career transitioned into hospital-based care, starting with a geriatric outpatient program, before ultimately joining the Ontario Shores Assessment and Reintegration Unit.

What drew me to the role of Integrated Care Coordinator was my understanding of the gaps in our healthcare system and how they impact community care and the well-being of service recipients. I recognized the urgent need to innovate our approach to care and treatment to improve our healthcare system, reduce inefficiencies, and break the cycle of individuals experiencing complex mental health challenges.

The greatest satisfaction of being a care coordinator is being part of the early stages of this innovative program. It's a program with immense potential to make a difference in the lives of our service users and our community. Building relationships with various teams and care providers who share a vision for responsive and quality care has been rewarding. Additionally, the opportunity to continue connecting with patients and their families in my new capacity has been truly fulfilling. I can follow their journey along the pathway, from acute care to tertiary care and onto outpatient care, providing ongoing advocacy and support for their recovery and overall well-being."

To learn more about how the Integrated Care Pathway brings the collective expertise of Ontario Shores, Scarborough Health Network, and the Durham and Toronto branches of the Canadian Mental Health Association together to provide seamless care for individuals with schizophrenia visit the page found here.