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Heavy Users of Service

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 citizens.

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.

Navigation and Coordination Centre

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.