What do we mean by continuity of care?

The term "continuity of care" refers to how a patient experiences the care they receive as being coherent and linked.

Some examples of how a family might experience continuity of care in the children's mental health system include:

  • seeing the same staff consistently, which provides the child and family with a sense of predictability and coherence;
  • knowing that different staff who work with the child are communicating with one another to discuss his or her needs; or
  • feeling that the different services being accessed (e.g. through a children's mental health agency, a family physician and the child's school) are working in the same direction, towards the same goals for the child.

Why study continuity of care?

In past studies, patients have indicated that continuity of care is important to them. Families seeking children's mental health services in Ontario are often involved with multiple sectors (e.g. mental health services, medical services, the education system, the juvenile justice system, and/or child welfare), leading to a complex, fragmented system that can be challenging to navigate.

Continuity of care has been recognized as important to children's mental health. The aim of this project is to measure continuity of care from the perspective of families. This will help researchers and policy-makers understand, and ultimately improve, the children's mental health system.