Implementing assertive community treatment in diverse settings for people who are homeless with co-occurring mental and addictive disorders: A series of case studies
The Assertive Community Treatment model (ACT) was developed more than 30 years ago to treat individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. This qualitative study highlights practical challenges encountered when establishing ACT teams in diverse settings serving people who are homeless with co-occurring mental and addictive disorders (COD). Program administrators and evaluators from nine programs located in seven states completed a survey on implementation challenges, fidelity, modifications to the ACT model, and program successes. Challenges encountered related largely to staffing and funding limitations as well as to difficulties with implementing the ACT model without modifications. Several modifications to the model were believed beneficial to recruiting and retaining consumers. These included emphasizing housing, adding staff positions not prescribed by ACT, implementing mini-teams within the program, delivering in-office services in a group format, and placing time-limited services by transitioning consumers to less intensive settings. Successes included reduction in hospitalizations, psychiatric symptoms, and substance abuse. Stabilization of consumers was attributed largely to housing assistance and maintenance; medication adherence; and delivery of intensive, multidisciplinary services including substance abuse treatment. Implications of this study suggest the need to adapt the ACT model for people who are homeless with COD by tailoring program staffing and service delivery. Furthermore, there is a need for a measure capable of assessing ACT fidelity in the context of both housing models and integrated treatment for the homeless population.