Emma Saaltink is an occupational therapist on the Community Integration Program (CIP) Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team.
For the last three-years, she has been a member of the community treatment program that provides recovery-oriented rehabilitation and support-services for individuals who experience serious and persistent mental health issues. This past fall, she was awarded with the Spirit of ACTT Award, a provincial award given to a frontline staff member who through their work embodies the spirit, vision and goals of Assertive Community Treatment.
“ACT is an all-encompassing job. We do therapy; we do grocery shopping; we do bed-bug prep. It is really hard to hire an ACT clinician because they need to be really good at a lot of different things. They need to be flexible, independent and smart. Emma is exceptional at all of these things, which you don’t often find,” says Amy Chesney, Community Manager of ACT.
Amy nominated Emma for the award, saying Emma is a member of the team who can be relied on to work humbly through ethical problems often faced by clinicians.
“Emma is very engaged and treats everyone with dignity and respect. She is assertive and straightforward; she has high expectations and is kind,” adds Amy.
Emma says no two days on the job are the same and the long-term relationships she builds with her clients is one of her favourite parts of the job.
“Seeing clients in the community in a space that isn’t clinical is a big privilege,” explains Emma. “I get to work with my clients so closely and develop such meaningful relationships with them. I see the positive impact our relationships are making on people’s lives and that’s why the ACT model resonates so much with me.”
Emma is one of ten members of the ACT team at Providence Care which also includes social workers, nurses and a concurrent disorder specialist.
“Our whole team works closely together and I couldn’t have received this award without their support,” says Emma. “If I did this work as an individual clinician, I wouldn’t get very far.”
Emma and her team work with a vulnerable population who often live in insecure housing situations and face stigma. Emma’s goal as an occupational therapist is to focus on her clients basic and instrumental activities of daily living to help them live successfully in the community.
“We advocate for our clients in different settings and let our clients advocate for themselves.”
Emma explains that the recovery process is far from linear and for most of her clients, it can be slow. She says she did not enter this field of work for awards. However, she does mention it has been nice to be recognized.
“In this field, we do a lot of work and the recovery process does not always look as glorious as in other disciplines. It felt great to be recognized and to have my team be there to support. Having recognition and awards like this helps you feel appreciated.”
Emma is now about to begin a new adventure as a mom. Her baby girl is due very soon and while she says she is excited for the journey into parenthood, she will miss seeing her clients every day.
“It’s going to be a big adjustment. Hopefully I’ll still get to see lots of my clients when I’m out and about and stay connected in some way.”