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HomeWhat We DoAccess to Quality Mental Health CareSchizophrenia Demonstration Project

Schizophrenia Quality Standards

National demonstration project to advance schizophrenia treatment and care delivery in Canada

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Schizophrenia Quality Standards

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that is associated with premature mortality and high disease burden. While there is well-established evidence for the care of adults with schizophrenia, the reality is that schizophrenia care varies widely across Canada, and many adults living with this illness do not receive optimal care.

Quality standards synthesize the best available clinical evidence. They are intended to reduce variability and establish the minimum standard of care that each person is entitled to receive. It takes 14-17 years for clinical evidence regarding care to be implemented in routine clinical practice. Quality standards help close this gap.

National Demonstration Project

As part of a nationwide effort to advance schizophrenia care, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) are collaborating to support the implementation of Ontario Health’s Schizophrenia Quality Standards (Standards) at four demonstration health-care sites across Canada. Participating sites will benefit from a customized and regional approach that will help their organization to optimize their delivery of evidence-based care and strengthen health outcomes for people living with schizophrenia.

The following health-care organizations have been selected as demonstration sites to implement the Standards:

  • Adult Forensic Mental Health Services, Manitoba
  • Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Canadian Mental Health Association, Windsor Essex, Ontario
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility, British Columbia

The demonstration sites will receive information and guidance on all of the quality statements in the Standards. The focus will be on implementing the statements on psychotherapies (cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis and family intervention) and pharmacotherapies (treatment with clozapine and treatment with long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication). These four statements have a significant impact on schizophrenia care and client outcomes. Successful implementation requires considerable resources for education, training, and measurement, which the demonstration sites will receive through their participation in this project.

The MHCC and Ontario Shores will provide tools, education, training, and change management support to enable sites to implement the Standard(s). Each site will benefit from a customized approach based on their specific organizational and regional needs. The work will also serve as a platform for the MHCC to develop a bilingual implementation and quality improvement toolkit to support the national scale-up for other organizations interested in implementing the Standards.

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About Schizophrenia

Symptoms of active schizophrenia can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and/or behaviour, and impaired cognitive ability. The severity, duration, and frequency of these symptoms can cause social and occupational challenges. The Quality Standards are intended to ensure there is a minimum standard of care for adults living with schizophrenia in hospital and community settings in Canada.

Although there is no cure for schizophrenia, programs and treatments are available to help manage symptoms. Reducing public misunderstanding and the stigma associated with the disease can increase support for adults living with this illness.

Read a story about a Lived Experience of Schizophrenia.

About the Schizophrenia Quality Standards

The Standards were developed by Ontario Health and informed by guidance from the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Adapted to the Canadian context and local conditions, the Schizophrenia Quality Standards include a series of 11 statements for Schizophrenia Care for Adults in Hospital, and, 15 statements for Schizophrenia Care in the Community. These statements are actionable, measurable, and grounded in the best available evidence.

The statements inform patients and families about what they should expect around medications and psychotherapies. This demonstration project will focus on implementing the four core statements that have been shown to have the greatest impact on improving the quality of life and care for people living with schizophrenia: the statements on pharmacotherapies (treatment with clozapine and treatment with long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication) and psychotherapies (cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis and family intervention).

Additional Resources

  • Read our press release.
  • Stay tuned for the release of a toolkit to support the national scale-up for organizations interested in implementing the Standards in the summer of 2025.
  • If you are a person living with schizophrenia, a caregiver, a health-care provider, or someone affiliated with an organization that would like to learn more and/or to get involved with the project, please contact us at mha@mentalhealthcommission.ca.