The Canadian Mental Health Association Cochrane-Timiskaming branch has staff that is a diverse and highly skilled multi-disciplinary team of qualified social workers, social services workers, nurses, occupational therapists, and clinicians. Together, a wide range of programs and services are offered to the community. The CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming Branch endeavours to provide culturally appropriate services to the francophone and native communities in the area. Active Recovery is a specialty in their Case Management/Community Support Program.
Active Recovery is a tool that is used to support clients who show an interest in improving their physical health. It is not a program, so much as an approach for case management and community support that many staff can be involved in at some level. For specialized knowledge in physical activity for clients, CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming has a worker who is trained as a personal trainer (through Can-Fit-Pro) at each of the three branch offices. Each of them has access to a community physical activity facility at which CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming houses exercise equipment for client and community use. Clients have free access to the equipment when accompanied by these personal trainer staff who provide orientation and guidance on cardio, weight training and stretching. They also lead some group classes, such as yoga, stability ball and spinning on stationary bicycles. CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming personal trainer staff provides options for activities at the gym or with other groups offered (hiking, mountain biking, golfing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, squash, fishing trips, etc.)
The facility arrangement has involved partnerships with the local municipalities and facility administration. The partnerships have proven to be win-win: it provides community access to the equipment as well as an integration opportunity for clients; and, liability and equipment maintenance issues are covered through the facility-based organizations. Equipment was purchased by CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming through a grant from the Ministry of Health Promotion’s Communities in Action Fund (now called the Healthy Communities Fund). In Kirkland Lake, a unique partnership developed with the local community complex in which the municipality provided the space for the CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming staff person to teach yoga, strength, weights, cardio, balance training, spin, etc. While this was on CMHA CT staff time, clients were able to participate at a reduced rate and were able to experience community integration.
Evaluation of the program is tied to the outcome measures of clients. Clients are referred to the personal trainers based on their screening or exercise prescription from a nurse practitioner. Physical baseline information is collected by the primary care team: blood pressure, weight, waist girth, stretch test. There is a follow-up evaluation a month or two later. Mental health outcomes are also being followed through a depression/anxiety screening. Some of the successes go beyond current evaluation measurement tools as people show signs of confidence, social comfort and engagement in activities.
Clients are encouraged to integrate with the community and some have been able to get their own gym memberships. Assisted membership is available to those who cannot afford full gym membership fees. To improve access to healthy food, staff has supported the development of a fruit and vegetable buying co-op.
The interview with staff person, Frankie O’Connor, expresses many of the community connections that are being developed. See the interview here. The intake package attached below is used to create a baseline understanding of a client’s current situation which can then be followed-up within a month or two.
For more information, contact:
Frankie O’Connor, Community Support Worker
Canadian Mental Health Association, Cochrane Timiskaming Branch
Email: foconnor [at] cmhact [dot] ca
Visit the resource directory for materials created by Canadian Mental Health Association, Cochrane-Timiskaming Branch, Active Recovery.