After five years in hospital, Richard Barton is now living successfully on his own thanks to a supportive family and his mental health care team
Richard Barton was gainfully employed and had his own home when he lost both with a diagnosis of psychosis and a five-year stay in hospital.
It was a trying time, he says now, but a remarkably resilient Richard looks back with no regrets of his time in the mental health care program of St. Joseph’s Health Care London.
“It was alright. I had people I was friendly with but nothing is better than living in your own place.”
After making significant gains in his recovery Richard transitioned to his own apartment in London with the support of an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team. ACT teams work in the community to assist people with mental illness live independently and achieve their goals. With expertise in occupational therapy, nursing, psychiatry, social work, therapeutic recreation and vocational support, ACT team members ensure proper supports are in place for patients and connect them to other community mental health care resources and continuing care organizations.
“Richard’s progress has really been quite amazing,” says Erik Krysa, ACT team registered nurse. “Knowing him now, it’s hard to imagine he lived at the hospital for several years.”
When the time was right, Richard was confident in his abilities and felt ready to move into the community. “ACT support made Richard and his family feel safe to allow him to try living on his own,” explains Morgan Will, ACT team occupational therapist
The team worked with Richard’s family to find him an apartment, furnishings and set him up with a bank, family physician and dentist. As this new journey began for the Richard, he was seen by the ACT team twice daily to ensure he was on track with his medications and to provide support.
“In time, Richard began to show us how capable he really was and now does practically all of his daily activities independently,” says Erik. “He shops and prepares meals, keeps his apartment clean, gets his medications from a pharmacy and attends medical appointments. He is very self-reliant.”
The team now only sees Richard, 42, once a week and is talking about monthly appointments.
Richard has also made important social connections in the community through his involvement with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) where he participates in art programs, relaxation groups and a walking group. He also exercises and swims several times a week at a local health club.
Confidence and courage is paving the way to Richard’s success in the community, along with the tremendous support of his family and ongoing care of his ACT team. Ask him about his progress and he smiles.
“I feel pretty good about everything. I am doing really well, I keep busy and I like to volunteer through CMHA when I can. I’m very proud of my successes.”