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Faces of CMHA: Darrin Lewis, Registered Practical Nurse FACT

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I enjoy being out in the community, getting to see people where they are in their homes after seeing them 15 years ago in the hospital when they were not in a good head space. I enjoy building a bond through a therapeutic relationship. Being on the FACT team is great; we support each other to support our clients.

#1. What is involved in your role?

I am a Registered Practical Nurse with the FACT team (Flexible Adult Community Team). I give long acting injections, anti-psychosis medication to clients. I support clients with any medical concerns that they might have and connect them to their doctor or specialists. I connect with pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to make sure we have the medication that we need for our clients. If clients do not have the proper medical coverage, I find coverage for them so they do not have to pay for their medication out of pocket. We have a psychiatrist involved with the FACT team and sometimes through the process of meeting with the client, we have to tweak medication or start new medication that will have a better effect.

#2. Why did you become involved in FACT?

When I started with CMHA I worked on the Specialized Crisis team working with the police in the community and then the opportunity came up to work with the FACT team as a nurse. I was interested in working with the clients on more of an ongoing basis where I could build relationships, which was important to me.

#3. Have you always worked in mental health?

I graduated college for nursing in 1996. In 1997, I started my first position in mental health working at Homewood Health Centre and then I worked at Grand River hospital in mental health. I have spent 17 years between the two organizations. I then started working at CMHA, so my whole career has centered on mental health. I grew up in a northern town in Labrador, I had many dealings with mental health, particular suicide, and that has stuck with me throughout the years and has influenced my career.

#4. How do you support people in FACT?

Many times when our clients come to us, they have been in the mental health system for several years and there is a lot of frustration that comes with that. I try to relate to our clients as much as possible, I work with them to get on the right medication and to get the right treatment for them. I will meet them anywhere, on the street, in a coffee shop. My goal for our clients is to see that what the team sees as best for them is best for them as well. We see success with clients who have been ACT level and deemed lifelong clients, they are now doing well in the community, volunteering and attending self-help groups. Keeping clients out of the hospital is a huge success.

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

I enjoy being out in the community, getting to see people where they are in their homes after seeing them 15 years ago in the hospital when they were not in a good head space. I enjoy building a bond through a therapeutic relationship. Being on the FACT team is great; we support each other to support our clients.

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

I have a couple things that I am proud of as a CMHA employee. When I started with the Specialized Crisis Team, it was a brand new team. It took a lot of hard work, along with my coworkers, to build up relationships with Waterloo Regional Police Officers to get people the help they needed. As well as to help people navigate through emergency at the hospital. I am also proud to be on the FACT Team. It has been a tough road to travel at times but to have a team standing there with me makes the job easier. To be a part of the start up of two different teams within the organization has been a challenge but has been rewarding.

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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