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Faces of CMHA: Chelsea Crocker, Occupational Therapist FACT Team

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The staff at CMHA is interested in better understanding how occupational therapy could add value to their services to support their clients, and this eagerness to learn and accept change was exciting! The culture of acceptance and of truly caring for both the staff and the individuals they work with was notable from the very beginning and left a lasting impression on me. FACT provides a different type of care, one where we are more than the sum of our parts. The FACT model is beneficial to the client because they do not have to keep introducing themselves for different aspects of their care to get their needs met.

#1. What is involved in your role?

As an Occupational Therapist on the FACT team, my job is to work with individuals and to look for what is meaningful in their days, emphasizing that participating in activity is a central part of recovery. What do they need to do? What do they want to do? What is standing in their way to achieve that? I have a caseload of clients who I am primarily responsible for who have been identified by the team and the clients goals would benefit from occupational support. This may look like breaking down a task like laundry or showering into easier steps; providing a neurocognitive assessment to identify strengths and challenges for those returning to school or work along with strategies to implement; running groups on life skills such as budgeting, cooking, or effective communication; one on one sessions to explore what’s keeping someone stuck; or consulting with other staff on the team.

#2. Why did you become involved in FACT?

I have extensive experience with the ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) model completing a placement in Hamilton when I was in high school, working there on and off for five years, and completing my evidence-based research project for my Masters with them as well. I saw how the team worked and how it helped the clients we served, and I also saw how much more could be done and what changes could be made in how mental health services as a whole could be offered in a region. The FACT model interested me immediately as I saw an opportunity to be part of the development and implementation of something different while utilizing the knowledge I had gained. FACT is a flexible, recovery-oriented treatment and care model for people with complex addiction and mental health needs. As an integrated multidisciplinary team service delivery model, this model enables people with concurrent health challenges to access flexible team-based care that can adapt to their changing needs.

#3. What brought you to CMHA?

I enjoyed my time as a placement student with the Support Coordination Team here at CMHA, I found the organization very welcoming and when I saw the posting for the FACT team position – and knowing the benefit of the team approach and having all the different perspectives – I knew I wanted to work at CMHA. The staff is interested in better understanding how occupational therapy could add value to their services to support their clients, and this eagerness to learn and accept change was exciting! The culture of acceptance and of truly caring for both the staff and the individuals they work with was notable from the very beginning and left a lasting impression on me, so when a posting was available for the FACT team it was an easy decision.

#4.Why is the FACT model beneficial to clients?

FACT provides a different type of care, one where we are more than the sum of our parts. The FACT model is beneficial to the client because they do not have to keep introducing themselves for different aspects of their care to get their needs met. For example, if a medical need comes up I can quickly consult with a nurse on our team. As client needs change, so does our support – maybe changing their primary worker makes sense, maybe the whole team needs to get involved for a short time, maybe they don’t need as intensive supports anymore and can transition out of service – so we are always checking in and assessing what is needed and are we the best fit to support that need.

#5. What do you enjoy about working at CMHA?

I really enjoy working in a team environment, traditionally Occupational Therapists often work independently, but I work very closely with other team members and have learned a lot as a result. I really appreciate the strong group of OT’s here at CMHA. The OT’s within the organization are very willing to provide support and mentorship to both staff as well as students and this has been invaluable in expanding the impact of occupational therapy in this community and in mental health. We are proud that this support of students on various service teams within CMHA has demonstrated the added value that they can bring to clients, leading to permanent positions within CMHA.

#6. What are you particularly proud of during your time at CMHA?

I am proud of the work that has been done in the nearly 3 years I have been part of this team and to be part of an organization that is interested in providing evidence-based care to best serve the needs of our region. I am proud of the variety of ways in which my role has been able to provide a positive impact in the lives of individuals’ who have entered and successfully left our services here at CMHA both within FACT as well as more broadly. I’m proud to have had the opportunity to present at the National CMHA Conference on the work that FACT has done incorporating clients into program development, having presented the findings from a pilot project with many of the occupational therapists at CMHA on the use of the BrainFX 360 assessment at the National Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) Conference, and completing an evidence-based quality assurance project on the implementation of Motivational Interviewing in a group format within FACT.

If you are in crisis or wish to discuss whether CMHA has the right service for you, call Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE 247).

Follow the ‘Faces of CMHA’ series for a glimpse into the lives of the people who spend each day at the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington working to inspire and support people to achieve the quality of life they desire. Join our team, click here to view current employment opportunities at CMHA WW

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