Schizophrenia Society of Canada Statement on Closure of Acute Care Psychiatric Beds Across Canada

The Schizophrenia Society of Canada strongly objects to the current trend of decreasing acute care psychiatric beds across Canada. “One in 100 will suffer from this disease. This means that 290,000 Canadians will develop the illness.”

Since deinstitutionalization of the psychiatrically ill in the 1960’s, comprehensive community services were promised. However, in most places they never materialized to an effective standard, and funds for these services are not now available. Persons with severe mental illness have long suffered the brunt of lack of funding and have also suffered the consequences of lack of comprehensive follow up and imaginative care. Consequently, many return time and time again to hospital or find themselves incarcerated in our penal institutions. This is not acceptable.

For better success in the total treatment of schizophrenia, patient needs are demonstrably greatest at the onset of the illness. Hospital or hospital-like care is therefore particularly important for patients in the early phases of schizophrenia. It is also important for those who are treatment resistant, and for those who, from time to time in their disease course, need the extra care that only the psychiatric ward can give.

Approximately 50% of persons suffering with schizophrenia live with their families. These parents are now aging and will soon no longer be able to carry on their active caregiving roles. This will leave a big gap in the total care of schizophrenia sufferers, causing an increase in rate of relapse and need for acute crisis care. Younger and older parents are demanding and will continue to demand the “latest”, and most effective kind of medication, case management and rehabilitation as the advantages of this new approach become more and more apparent.

Many persons suffering with schizophrenia live in an atmosphere of continuous psychosis as street people with no pattern of care or medical help. This is a disgrace.

No matter how sophisticated the community services are, i.e. day hospitals, outreach centres, short-stay crisis centres, group homes etc., there is still a need for acute psychiatric care that may require a longer stay in hospital. There needs to be careful monitoring of the effects of new medication and care during acute psychotic episodes. Hit and miss methods of case management that are happening are not good enough. Persons suffering from schizophrenia who are a danger to themselves and/or others must be recognized and supported in treatment regimes for their safety and for that of the general public.

“Equal access to health services is a basic right and a driving force.”
(quote from Leona Bachrach’s “Spotlight on Canada”.)

The future of our young people is at stake – it cannot be jeopardized!