Regional Psychiatric Centre
The Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) has served for over 40 years as a key component of the mental health and criminal justice systems in Canada. Nestled on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan, this unique facility bridges the gap between custodial corrections and community healthcare.
The RPC first opened its doors in 1978 as the only forensic psychiatric hospital directly affiliated with a university medical school. This partnership with the University of Saskatchewan has been integral in shaping the RPC’s focus on assessment, rehabilitation, research and training.
Location and History
Situated on 55 acres of the university’s land, the RPC’s therapeutic programming and security protocols are specially designed to serve federally incarcerated patients. A staff of 345 medical, nursing and corrections professionals care for up to 171 male and female offenders requiring psychiatric oversight.
The RPC is uniquely equipped to provide the full continuum of mental health services within a high-security environment.
Teams of psychiatrists and psychologists conduct court-ordered evaluations to determine fitness to stand trial and criminal responsibility of individuals involved in legal disputes.
Offenders who are seriously mentally ill live on secured residential units where their conditions are managed through assessments, therapy and medication. The RPC houses the only federally-operated psychiatric program tailored specifically to meet the needs of women.
For patients well enough to be discharged into community supervision, RPC specialists facilitate transitional case management and liaise with regional healthcare providers to ensure continuity of care.
Staff and Training
The RPC’s designation as a teaching hospital sustains a rich training environment for students across various disciplines.
With many senior physicians holding joint faculty appointments at the university, medical students and psychiatric residents gain valuable exposure to forensic mental health practice.
Nurses undertake specialized training in psychiatric care which equips them to safely de-escalate and manage difficult patient behaviours.
Students and Residents
In addition to medicine and nursing trainees, those studying psychology, social work and corrections benefit from the unique professional development opportunities.
The twin mandate of patient care and scientific inquiry satisfies the RPC’s overarching goal to advance knowledge in this complex field.
Studies and Clinical Trials
In-house research projects allow clinicians to pilot innovative pharmacological and psychosocial approaches to treating mental illness in corrections.
Collaborations with academic researchers facilitate large-scale longitudinal studies on recidivism reduction and evaluating community reintegration strategies.
The layout and daily operations of this maximum-security hospital reflect its dual role as a healthcare institution and custodial facility.
Correctional officers support hospital staff to maintain safety and order across multiple units with varying security levels according to patient risk profiles. Closed circuit cameras, routine searches and strict visitor policies promote controlled access.
Amenities and Programming
Within the parameters of restricted liberties that correctional status entails, patients benefit from a full roster of therapeutic activities including counseling, skills training, cultural ceremonies and hobby crafts. Outdoor recreation spaces provide fresh air and exercise.
Over its 45-year history, the RPC has assessed and treated many high-profile offenders who endured severe psychiatric distress.
The 2007 death of Ashley Smith, a mentally troubled teenager who had been transferred across multiple correctional institutions, sparked a coroner’s inquest and serious questions around the treatment of women prisoners manifesting self-injurious tendencies.
Other High-Profile Patients
In addition to Smith, several sensational cases like that of quadruple-murderer Allan Schoenborn have led to public scrutiny of the RPC’s policies and capacity to rehabilitate severely disturbed criminals.
Mental Health Policy
Ongoing efforts to improve federal programming for inmates with psychiatric needs often feature recommendations to bolster resources and oversight at facilities like the Regional Psychiatric Centre.
Following lawsuits and commissions of inquiry citing inadequate mental healthcare in prisons, lawmakers have passed new standards entitling offenders to sufficient and timely evaluation and treatment.
Recommendations and Advocacy
Watchdog groups like the Office of the Correctional Investigator continue to call for expanded maximum and intermediate care units, enhanced staff training in de-escalation techniques, and improved information sharing across jurisdictional boundaries.
As understanding of forensic mental health evolves and demand for these specialized services grows, the RPC will adapt to better deliver on its mission.
With updated correctional legislation specifying criteria for involuntary treatment in custody, bed shortages at facilities like the RPC will need to be addressed through infrastructure enhancements.
Enhanced Community Integration
Further bridging the transition between the RPC setting and community-based care remains a priority. Initiatives like supervised outpatient services and extended halfway housing strive for continuity of intensive supports.
The Regional Psychiatric Centre promises to continue carving an indispensable niche in the landscape of Canadian forensic mental healthcare. Guided by ethical standards and its academic mission, the RPC is poised to integrate scientific advances to inform practice while balancing its obligations to improve public safety and uphold patient rights.
For over four decades, the Regional Psychiatric Centre has delivered specialized assessment, intervention and reintegration services to mentally disordered offenders in Saskatchewan and across Canada. The opportunities forged by its partnerships with the university, government and community stakeholders will support the RPC’s continued evolution as a leader in this complex field of human services.
What security level is the RPC?
As a forensic facility, the RPC has a maximum security level but also houses minimum and medium-security units to accommodate offender patients across a range of risk profiles.
What is the capacity of the RPC?
Currently the RPC has 171 beds available to serve federally incarcerated men and women requiring psychiatric care.
Who oversees health care at the RPC?
Care teams consisting of psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists and social workers oversee the physical and mental health treatment of patients under the direction of senior clinical leadership affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan.
Does the RPC only accept forensic patients?
Yes, individuals are admitted to the RPC under criminal code custody awaiting court assessments or after being transferred from federal corrections based on psychiatric treatment needs that exceed the capacity of regular prisons.
What types of research are performed at the RPC?
Clinicians engage in in-house studies exploring topics like innovative pharmacological therapies and Predictors of community integration after discharge. Larger multi-site projects also recruit RPC patients to Participate in longitudinal research on mental health and criminal justice.