Written by Shannon Henderson, Senior Consultant, Communications and Public Affairs

Daya Nand was struggling with psychosis, multiple assault charges and deep emotional pain when he met the Surrey/North Delta Assertive Community Treatment team.

After a long stay in hospital, Daya was referred to the team for support, as his previous connections with other types of mental health care had not been successful.

“Clinical environments can be very stressful for some individuals ... so we focus on meeting them where they’re at,” says Gina Parhar, Surrey/North Delta ACT Coordinator.

Meeting people where they’re at simply means asking the client, “What can we do to help you?”

Daya was angry, but willingly responded. He said he needed a change in his medication because the side effects were bad. He needed someone to listen. He wanted to go to McDonald’s.

ACT Psychiatrist Dr. Mansoor Anwar switched Daya to a monthly injection medication with lower side effects, and the team worked at slowly building a relationship with him over cups of coffee at McDonald’s. Coffee chats about his recovery plan eventually led to participation in group sessions and finding suitable housing.

Now sober and with his mental health condition managed, Daya has rekindled a good relationship with his mother and sister. He also uses his culinary talent to feed people in need at the Surrey Urban Mission Society.

“Our key to success is focused on building relationships with our clients,” says Parhar. “Sometimes it means going slowly, being casual; not rushing into a four-page assessment form, but rather identifying what it is that we can help them with.” Read Daya’s full story.

Daya is one of many clients who have benefited from the ACT team’s flexible, client-centered approach. A recent evaluation report* of the program showed that ACT teams across the region continue to make a positive impact on the quality of life for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, and reduce hospital utilization:

  • 73 per cent reduction in utilization of acute bed days due to psychiatric reasons
  • 50 per cent or more reduction in the number of Emergency Department visits, admissions to acute care, and Alternate Level of Care (ALC) bed days

More importantly, the quality of life for our clients has significantly improved:

  • More than 90 per cent of clients have gained stable housing
  • Proportion of clients benefiting from improved management of psychological symptoms; GP attachment; community service connections; etc. has increased

For more information about Assertive Community Treatment, visit fraserhealth.ca/mentalhealth

* Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Evaluation Report: Summary of Findings for Fraser Health ACT Teams, June 2017.

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