Engagement is the program’s top priority, so caseloads are kept small. This leaves the program’s clinicians space to connect and build relationships with their clients. Fostering trust with young people seeking help can be a long process. Not everyone who connects with the clinicians is ready to receive full treatment yet. It is the clinicians’ job to meet young people where they are at in their care pathway and to be a dependable point of support.
ACCESS OM’s two clinicians, Owen and Seren, spoke to our group about their day to day work with participating youth. Seren is currently working with 16 young people and Owen works with closer to 20 young people. According to Seren, their daily tasks fluctuate. They assertively engage the community by rotating through different ACCESS youth hubs, each of which has specific drop-in hours every week. They are also attempting to build presence in local high schools.
Other days, they connect with youth who have left their information in the clinicians’ voicemail inbox. How patients access care is very geographically determined; where youth live can be a huge barrier to getting help. Some of the youth that Owen and Seren engage live on the edge of the city or all the way in Spruce Grove. They help these patients logistically, connecting them with services by providing transportation to appointments and youth activities, or teaching them to navigate public transportation.
Building relationships is a series of small steps, from meeting youth in coffee shops close to home so they get used to leaving the house, to helping them meet their basic needs and wellness goals. Sometimes, the clinicians’ job is just to hang out and be a positive presence. Owen tells us about one of his clients who seemed frustrated with his progress. Instead of focusing on mental health services, Owen took the youth to a music shop and they spent the day playing instruments, which had a positive effect on the youth. Creating such positive impressions helps the two clinicians fulfill their role of connecting youth to appropriate Alberta Health programs.