Date: 13 Aug 2008

System-Wide Implementation of ACT in Ontario: An Ongoing Improvement Effort

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In the late 1990s, the government of Ontario undertook a province-wide implementation of Assertive Community Treatment (ACT). Capacity grew to 59 teams within 6 years. This paper describes the implementation process, focusing on three phases—start-up, or the enabling phase; feedback, or the reinforcement phase; and response, or the corrective action phase. Key implementation supports include an active oversight committee with representation from both the ministry and the field and the availability of the planning data on ACT performance. Three areas of underperformance were identified: lower than expected team caseloads, drift from the target client group, and significant under-staffing in the teams. Likely causes were suggested, and corrective actions developed, which centered on clarifying the ACT standards, especially related to intake criteria, rate of intake and staffing, increasing team funding, and establishing expectations for reporting and accountability. While these corrective responses are promising, implementation of infrastructure and mechanisms for providing systematic practice feedback is still underdeveloped.