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Employee and Family Assistance Program

McMaster University is proud to offer the extended benefit of an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) with our partner, Homewood Health.

Contact Homewood Health: 1.800.663.1142

Homewood Health is McMaster’s provider of the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Homewood Health helps you take practical and effective steps to improve your well-being and be the best you can be. They offer a supportive, confidential and caring environment and will provide you with assessment and guidance for any challenge.

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Information Box Group

Homewood Health offers far more than counselling

With a comprehensive menu of well-being programs and services to match your individual needs and goals, Homewood can help you define and maintain your personal well-being through education, development, motivation and direct intervention.

Q & A

Homewood Health assumes a protective role in safeguarding your information. We collect personal information for purposes of
providing appropriate services. Confidentiality and/or non-disclosure agreements are in place to protect your information. Service or treatment may require your information to be obtained or shared with service providers who have been directly involved in your health care, however, we will not share your information with other individuals or groups without your knowledge and consent.

Homewood is a trusted Canadian company with years of experience delivering the best possible support for clients like you. Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the EFAP. The program allows all EFAP clients to discuss any life-issue in complete confidence, whether speaking with a Masters’ level counsellor or another professional for one of the Plan Smart specialty services (e.g. Lawyer or Registered Dietician). Homewood Health standards of confidentiality are the same as those used by medical doctors in Canada. You and your family may rest assured that all conversations and dealings with the EFAP will remain strictly confidential within the limits of the law*.

A number of steps are taken to ensure confidentiality and privacy:

  • Appointments are scheduled for privacy. No two persons from McMaster University will have back-to-back appointments with the same counsellor.
  • Private off-site offices for face-to-face appointments.
  • This program is voluntary, no referral is needed. You can contact Homewood directly.
  • Phone messages are never left without prior permission.
  • Flexible scheduling.
  • Reports made to McMaster University contain only aggregate data on usage and trends utilizing non-identifying information.
  • Homewood Health is fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an objective and recognized body for EFAP provider accreditation, which also ensures organizations meet the standards of confidentiality.

*Homewood Health is required by law to disclose what would otherwise be confidential information when there is a risk of serious injury to oneself or others, there is suspicion of child abuse as defined by provincial legislation, or when served with a properly executed court order (ie. subpoena).

When you contact Homewood Health, you will speak with a qualified intake Support Specialist who will:

  • Assess your situation.
    • Please note: for safety reasons you will always be asked if you may cause potential harm to self or others whenever you call Homewood Health.
  • Ask you a few brief questions, including the name of your organization so they can verify they are talking to the right person and can confirm all the services available to you as part of your benefit coverage.
  • Assess your needs and preferences, and guide you to the assistance best suited to resolving your concerns.
  • Ask if it is okay for a clinician to leave a message on your voicemail to follow up. If you indicate that you would prefer not to have any messages left, you may need to follow up with Homewood Health to obtain your appointment time if you miss your counselor’s phone call.

When you contact Homewood Health you do not need to know the specific service you want, you just need to provide information about what you are currently experiencing.

Homewood Health takes numerous steps to ensure your privacy and confidentiality.  See question above about privacy and confidentiality.

  • There are no costs to current benefit-eligible employees and their immediate family members when they receive this service.
  • Occasionally, one of the EFAP clinicians may refer the individual to an outside service or agency if an extended counselling program is required or if some specialized treatment is warranted. In these instances, the EFAP clinician will stay in touch with the employee until the problem is resolved and the outside service is no longer required. An attempt will be made to refer to outside services where provincial or employee health plans and government services will cover the cost.

Homewood Health operates on a short-term solution focused model.  The short term solution focused EFAP counselling model is different from traditional, long term counselling.

The power in this EFAP model is in the setting of goals, the engagement between the service provider and client and the amount the client practices between sessions.  Many of the behavior changes take time to recognize and practice, so there is often time between appointments to allow people time to practice. Service providers offer focused, specific, practical tools and tips to help people work toward their goal. The counsellor needs to keep the individual focused on the goal in the short-term model. The research shows that with this method, goals can usually be achieved in 3-4 sessions. There are certain situations that do warrant  more sessions within the short-term counselling model and the counsellor will evaluate that need and manage these based on the clinical merits of each and every case.

If longer term treatment is required the counselor will work with the individual to bridge them to longer-term counselling. In these cases the counsellors, with the support of the clinical management team, begin exploring alternative services and when appropriate, transition the client to other community services, while providing bridge counselling to support them until they have started with that program.

If you have access to extended health care benefits through Sun Life, you may also wish to utilize these benefits for longer-term counselling needs.

Homewood Health clinicians are experienced professionals who are registered psychologists, registered social workers or Doctorate or Master’s level registered counsellors, chosen for their extensive experience dealing with a variety of psychological and health issues.

Homewood Health makes every effort to match clients with clinicians based on client needs within a vast clinical network. If for some reason you are not comfortable with the counsellor assigned to you, call the toll free number 1-800-663-1142 and Homewood will reassign a counsellor to you. Your comfort is important to McMaster University and Homewood Health.

Homewood will do their best to accommodate any specific preferences. Please let the intake consultant know if you have any preferences such as matching you with a clinician with lived experience.

Yes, we have a page dedicated to supporting your psychological well-being.  There is an additional webpage that outlines the mental health training available for staff and faculty.

Contact Us

If you have an experience with Homewood Health that you would like to share with them directly, please contact their intake line at 1-800-663-1142.
For further information about services offered by Homewood Health, to clarify processes, or to discuss any concerns with services, you are welcome to contact me.

headshot of Deb Garland

Human Resources Services

Deb Garland

Program Manager, Engagement and Wellness