The Heavy Users of Service (HUoS) project was established in
2013, in alignment with the EPS Violence Reduction Strategy, and to date, 41
at-risk Edmontonians have participated in a program aimed at improving lives
and reducing inappropriate use of the city’s social and emergency services.
HUoS began as a collaboration of 16 community stakeholders who believed a new
and unique harmonization was necessary to address Edmonton’s most at-risk
The HUoS program’s collaboration of community partners, representing
the city’s emergency and social services, was developed as a response to highly
vulnerable community members who were most susceptible to victimization and a
high utilization of resources. These individuals are frequent users of health,
justice and social services and at times use these services inappropriately
such as visiting an emergency room in hope of finding shelter, food, or
securing medications to support addictions. Often, heavy service users will
cycle through the system of community services repeatedly, only to “fall
through the cracks”.
HUoS is structured to work with those who have been referred
to the program through various sources including healthcare and community
services providers. These individuals also encounter law enforcement either as
victim or offender, through incidents ranging from minor social disorder to more
serious criminal matters. As a result, EPS is often a first contact and a
referral partner into the HUoS program.
Case Development Team
The HUoS Case Development Team
(CDT) is a multidisciplinary unit consisting of representatives of the
program’s agency partners. As heavy users of services, potential clients
generally have amassed a substantive case history with team partners. The team reviews
this case history, sharing information and case notes and working with the individual
to create a client-centred action plan. The
action plan addresses medical, addiction, mental health, justice, housing,
finances and immediate needs. The plan also identifies and addresses gaps or
barriers (including legal issues such as outstanding fines) that could prevent
service providers from supplying the help to meet those client needs.
Once developed, the delivery of the client action plan is supported
by the Navigation and Coordination Centre (NCC) along with members of the CDT
and existing community programs and agencies. The NCC is staffed by an EPS sergeant, an analyst, an administration clerk and
four navigators (two social workers and two EPS constables) and tasks are
assigned to the appropriate resources such as outreach workers, community
service providers, government services and other supports.
The NCC advocates for the client and actively navigates them
through the various service providers, setting up appointments and often serving
as a liaison between agencies and clients, ensuring program participants have
access and understand program information. Navigators also help clients complete
program applications, filling out necessary forms and helping the client in
securing necessary medical reports and financial information. More than just a
helping hand, navigators play a large role in moving the client’s plan forward
by facilitating the coordination between all the program partners to achieve
the primary goal of client success.
Focus on Client Needs
For the client, success is seen in an increase in personal
safety and security, greater awareness and more effective use of the services
they need, and an overall improvement in the quality of life. The HUoS team has
also seen numerous positive outcomes. The program has highlighted the operation
of support systems through the eyes of vulnerable clients. This has led to positive
change for people who could be considered heavy users of services, an increased
understanding of the role of trauma in the lives of people with complex needs, and
a more collaborative approach in program development and delivery.
When HUoS clients are accessing the proper supports and
services, the result is improved outcomes for clients and service providers.
And for EPS it means less time spent by patrol members on complaint calls for
HUoS clients and a greater understanding of the organization’s role in
supporting Edmonton’s vulnerable citizens.