In June, BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) was invited to speak at the launch of the Treatment Optimization of Psychosis (TOP) Collaborative that is currently being piloted through Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). The TOP Collaborative is a quality improvement initiative led by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Mental Health Services with a goal to educate service providers, as well as families, on the importance of Clozapine. Clozapine is an under-utilized antipsychotic that is most often used to treat treatment-resistant schizophrenia.

Since the late 1990’s, Clozapine has been administered and monitored in within community settings in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. However, within VCH, clozapine is still mostly initiated in acute care settings (e.g. hospital) or subacute care settings (e.g. facilities such as Venture). This delay in starting treatment with clozapine greatly impacts people living with schizophrenia, resulting in delayed recovery, years of lost functioning, poorer quality of life, and revolving door admissions.

Very similar to people living with psychosis and serious mental illness, people living with HIV/AIDS follow a similar path and faces similar issues related to non-adherence to medication, lack of effective treatment, and lack of inpatient beds. This connection and understanding led the VCH Mental Health Services to start working with the BC-CfE to adapt existing successful HIV/AIDS patient quality improvement strategies to help build better understanding of why it is important to provide adequate treatment as soon as possible to people living with schizophrenia. In particular, it is crucial to get people living with treatment-resistant schizophrenia on a medication that will help to reduce their symptoms of psychosis, thereby reducing the long-term cognitive impacts of untreated psychosis, and ultimately helping provide an enhanced quality of life.

At the launch, Faydra Aldridge, BCSS CEO, spoke to the importance of the TOP Collaborative in helping improve quality of care for everyone affected by schizophrenia; while Catherine Larnon-Trout (Fraser South Regional Educator) and Adrianne Roberts (person with lived experience) spoke to the how involving families in the treatment management plans results in a greater success of disease management.

Attendees and participants — mostly psychiatrists and other clinicians — were extremely appreciative of the insight of how family involvement can help people achieving the quality of life that people with schizophrenia and serious mental illness deserve.

Hardeep Thind (BCSS Coastal Regional Manager) will continue working closely with the TOP Collaborative to ensure that service providers also understand the importance of family involvement.

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