Complex Service Needs Initiative

Alberta Health Services, in partnership with the Government of Alberta, Disability Services – Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD), are working together to help adults with an intellectual/developmental disability and mental health concern/illness plus complex service needs receive the care they need through a coordinated and integrated support system.

It is both Alberta Health Service’s and the Alberta Government’s goal to make sure adults with dual diagnoses and complex service needs are supported.


Complex Needs Initiative Contacts

Gloria Wesley, Manager
Disabilities, Inclusion and Accessibility Division
Program Development & Innovation
Disability Services
Government of Alberta

Sandy Marcynuk, Provincial Consultant Lead
Provincial Complex Needs Initiative
Provincial Planning and Capacity Management
Community, Seniors and Addiction & Mental Health 587-773-5242
Alberta Health Services

What is CSN?

What are complex service needs?

Complex Needs Definition

For the purpose of this Initiative, Adults with Complex Service Needs are defined as, individuals who are 18 or older and have a developmental/intellectual disability. They are eligible for services from the PDD program, as well as those services from other ministries which are available to all Albertans. These adults pose a significant risk, and/or are destructive, to themselves, others or property. They require intensive services and have, or have had a history of one or more of the following diagnoses or life experiences:

  • Mental health disorder
  • Terminations from other social support services
  • Specialized treatment for psychiatric and/or behavioural issues
  • Multi-system involvement (example Corrections, Health, Human Services etc.)
  • Incarceration(s) or criminal justice involvement
  • Chronic substance abuse/dependency problems

Additional links for more information

Community Support Teams

Community Support Teams (CST) combine Alberta Health Services and PDD staff who specialize in helping individuals with a dual diagnosis (intellectual/developmental disability and mental health concern/illness) and complex service needs. Each team is uniquely constructed according to each regional need and may include clinicians such as mental health therapist, psychologist, nurse, occupational therapist, behavior therapist, social worker, therapy assistant or others as determined by regional requirements. All referrals are received and forwarded to the correct team through the local/regional PDD office.

News & Newsletters

Complex Service Needs Newsletter

Other News of Interest

Education & Resources


Webinars & Videoconferences


Collection of on-line available and accessible learning resources.

Learning Events

Learning Events

The Complex Needs Initiative hosts or promotes Learning Events focused on important skills for front line service provider staff to deliver excellent services for individuals with complex service needs.

Email for further information or to request your event be placed on this website.

Innovations in Practice Conference

Join us for the 2nd Innovations in Practice Conference on Wednesday, October 9 & Thursday, October 10, 2019 in Edmonton.

Learn Engage Inspire

The term developmental disabilities (DD) refers to individuals with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome and related neurodevelopmental genetic syndromes. Children, youth, and adults with DD are vulnerable to high rates of general health and mental health concerns. This conference will focus on practical strategies and partnerships to optimize their potential.  Our goal is to help clinicians and caregivers learn effective ways to work with individuals with DD, and their families, in partnership to improve their quality of life experience. The conference will also provide educational and informative psychiatric, behavioral, mental health, and complex physical health updates specific to individuals with DD, and showcase best practices in the field.

Our target audience is vast and will include Health care professionals, Physicians, family members, community service providers, post-secondary students, behaviour therapists, caregivers, families, First Nations Health Personnel, Mental Health Therapists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists Physical Therapists, Educators, Academic researchers, Policy makers, Psychologists, Public Guardians & Trustees, Self-advocates, Allied health providers and anyone who is interested or works in the field of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Registration begins May 1, 2019 at Innovations in Practice 2019.

Resources from Past Workshops or Learning Events

Trauma Informed Services for Individuals with Complex Needs
Dr. Karyn Harvey presented best practice methods from a trauma informed perspective, how to help and what to do.

Paper Tigers Documentary Film Screening
This documentary film demonstrates how complex trauma can affect brain development and the positive effects of trauma informed care and practices. This event has now passed however this documentary film on DVD is available to borrow.  Contact to request the material.

Harm Reduction in a complex Dual Diagnosis population
Harm reduction philosophy, techniques and strategies when engaging with at-risk complex clients.

Sensory Processing Resources

Kim Barthel presented a workshop on September 15 to a provincial audience and shared many internet accessible resources.  A summary document contains the original powerpoint and the many resources that were shown or were referenced during the presentation.

Cultural Competencies
Enhance and develop skills to better understand and embrace cultural diversity in the community service sector.