Capital Health program wins national award

Monday, June 9, 2014 - 5:08pm

A program based at Capital Healths East Coast Forensic Hospital has won the first ever Award of Excellence in Mental Health and Quality Improvement. This new award honours a hospital, health authority, community-based mental health and addictions program/service, or a leader in the field that demonstrates evidence-informed and sustained quality improvements in the area of Mental Health and Addictions.

Watch a presentation about this by Dr. Angela Connors. 

The forensic sexual behaviour program treatment manual is lead by Dr. Angela Connors with contributions from colleagues within Capital Health and across Nova Scotia. The entire team includes, Jan Evans, Dr Michele St. Amand-Johnson, Sonja Svensson, and Tarah Vallee who are all from Capital Health. The team also includes Mikaela Vidmar-Perrins from Kentville , Michael Hennessey from Truro and Dr. Stephen McEachen from Cape Breton.

The following is the description of the program that was read aloud during the awards ceremony.

What works to prevent sexual reoffence? As therapists, have we maintained a client-centered approach while improving the safety of communities?

To answer these questions, Dr. Angela Connors and her team at Capital Health thoroughly researched best practice in effectively working with sexual offenders. Their population analysis now spans over a decade and contains crucial details on over 900 clients. Characteristics such as average risk level, offense profile, education level and other variables were captured and scrutinized, and a program designed to prevent re-offence and increase client adaptation was developed.

The forensic sexual behaviour program is a provincial resource. Therapists across Nova Scotia were trained to deliver the program in a client-centred manner for maximum effectiveness. This encompassed considerable change of practice and philosophy for some, but the outcomes outweigh the effort. Research shows an approximate 40 percent reduction in sexual offenses by tailoring treatment to risk and needs.

Finally, Dr. Connors and her team created a detailed master document outlining supporting research, objectives, cognitive behavioural therapy strategies, resources and skill-practice components for eight treatment themes. Each one is iterative, designed to build upon the previous one in skill-development. Approach goals are identified and supported throughout. The ultimate goal of this manual is to support evidence based treatment across the province in an effective and consistent manner to reduce sexual reoffence in Nova Scotia communities, while increasing client life satisfaction and adaptation.