December 10, 2008

STREET SCENES

Jonas Thom has seen ACT and IDDT work with some of the toughest cases, those who nearly disappear into the recesses of society

—by Paul M. Kubek and Matthew K. Weiland

Cincinnati, Ohio—There is hope for people who are most at-risk of psychiatric hospitalization, homelessness, and institutional recidivism. It is called Assertive Community Treatment (ACT). If you listen close enough to Jonas Thom, MA, PCC, you will get the impression that ACT is more than an evidence-based practice that produces improved outcomes; it is a way of being present gently and consistently in the lives of people who are burdened with overwhelming feelings of isolation.

Thom is Director of the Ohio Coordinating Center for ACT. In this role, he provides technical assistance (consulting, training, and evaluation) services for ACT implementation in organizations and service systems throughout the Buckeye State, including mental health, criminal justice, and youth services and foster care, among others. He currently assists 45 ACT teams in 30 counties in Ohio. Thom has more than 13 years of experience working with people who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness. He began his career as a case manager, and in his previous role as clinical supervisor at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, he developed and supervised four ACT teams, including Hamilton County's first.


THE CONVERSATION

Thom presented several workshops at the 2008 Annual Ohio SAMI CCOE/IDDT Conference, which took place in Columbus on September 16 & 17, including an introduction to ACT and an exploration of ethics and boundaries in home-based treatment. Thom joined us for a conversation between presentations. The conference was sponsored by the Ohio SAMI Coordinating Center of Excellence (CCOE), an initiative of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices (CEBP) at Case Western Reserve University. 


1.) An Ohio ACT Overview (2m 14s)
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) was designed for people who are frequently admitted to psychiatric hospitals, but it is being adapted for prison re-entry, jail diversion, and other services.
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2.) ACT and IDDT (2m 14s)
Though ACT and IDDT share similar policies and practices, IDDT is more of a clinical intervention while ACT focuses on organizational intervention, helping agencies provide all the resources that team members and consumers need for individualized, wraparound treatment.
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3.) The Man in the Dumpster (3m 31s)
This consumer, Jim, was living outdoors in a metal box near some railroad tracks, even during long, cold Ohio winters. He did not talk much, but he liked to tell stories about neighborhoods, especially the one of his youth. Find out what happened and where he is today?
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4.) Empty Nester (2m 25s)
An ACT team befriended a librettist who had built himself a nest in which he had lived for some ten years near the University of Cincinnati. Learn how the team engaged this man in a relationship around his passion of the language of music and opera.
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5.) Ethics and Boundaries in Home-Based Settings (2m 57s)
Meeting with people in their living rooms and kitchens produces confusion for service providers and consumers alike. A workshop on "Ethics and Boundaries in Home-Based Settings" emphasizes the need for consistent behavior among team members.
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Paul M. Kubek, MA, is director of communications and Matthew K. Weiland, MA, is senior writer, producer, and new-media specialist at the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University.