Vancouver Coastal Health has been at the forefront of delivering community-based and community-focused care to individuals who require a higher level and frequency of service, due to their vulnerable status, through the services provided by seven Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams.
ACT is an evidence-based service delivery model that combines treatment, rehabilitation and support services using team-based care as a community alternative to psychiatric hospitalization. These teams provide intensive, specific and continuous services to meet the needs of individuals living with serious and persistent mental health and/or substance use challenges who have not benefited from traditional outpatient programs.
“The ACT teams support clients who may have otherwise fallen through regular pathways and present with different levels of comfort and need when it comes to traditional health settings. Our ability to work from a place of flexibility, community-partnering and responsiveness helps match our services to where the client is at and support them in their transitions in community, inpatient and tertiary settings”, says Kiran Dhaliwal, Vancouver ACT manager.
ACT uses an interdisciplinary team approach to deliver wrap around services. Staff represent a variety of disciplines including nursing, social work, occupational therapy, vocational rehab or recreational therapy, peer support and psychiatry. These roles are identified in the B.C. Provincial Standards for ACT, as is the importance in working with community agencies to provide holistic care. Team members work together with family/caregivers and the client as active partners to conduct a comprehensive assessment, develop a care plan for the client, and are jointly responsible for implementing and monitoring the plan.
In 2020, VCH received additional funding through the Ministry of Health to operationalize a sixth ACT team in Vancouver and a new ACT Team Richmond. Both of the new teams have the capacity to provide services to clients with mental health challenges who are not engaging in traditional outpatient services despite high acuity/needs, are experiencing absolute or relative homelessness and/or are at high risk of overdose.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic and a housing crisis, the expansion of VCH ACT services has been instrumental in providing care to some of the most vulnerable people living in our community, being responsive not only to all the needs of clients but to the evolving needs of their communities as well.
This story is part of the 2021/22 VCH Impact Report, which features the critical role of health care workers during this extraordinary time. The report highlights our programs and initiatives, emphasizing the strength of our values and showing our commitment to delivering exceptional care.Read our 2021/2022 Impact Report