Every other Wednesday, for three years, Dr. Ben Loveday started his day at 8:30am, meeting with Streetscape staff at Community Mental Health Programs (CMHP) and receiving an update on the clients he would see that day. Until noon, Dr. Ben (as he is warmly referred to) met with clients and developed a plan with them that would help them meet their more immediate needs and their longer-term goals. And then in the afternoon, Dr. Ben made his way to Quintin Warner House to meet with the staff and the men in the addiction treatment program; there, he listened to clients, prescribed medications as needed and developed plans for the future with them.
Dr. Ben operated differently within CMHP and Quintin Warner House than psychiatrists in other settings. “Hospital based services and other agencies often have specific criteria for who is acceptable and who is not to take on as a client. Let’s say if someone is a no-show or someone is involved in substance abuse – those behaviors may prevent them from participating in psychiatric care there…Those barriers don’t exist at CMHP or Quintin Warner,” Dr. Ben explains. “If a client doesn’t show up for an appointment, they will still be able to receive the same service without interruption when they return.”
Coming from a background where he specialized in youth and adolescent psychiatry, serving clients who are adults experiencing homelessness, addiction, and untreated mental illness, was an eye-opener. Dr. Ben worked closely with the staff at each branch; since his services were not emergency-based, staff members had time to assess a client to see what kind of resource that person needed before referring to Dr. Ben, who provided assessments, diagnoses, treatment recommendations, and prescriptions. Clients also asked to speak with Dr. Ben knowing he was someone they could trust, who would listen to them and sincerely do his best to help them.
“He also provided supports to clients in other ways that are suitable for a specific need such as filling out aspects of applications for housing, pre-medical admission forms for treatment, or filling out the medical portion of ODSP applications that Streetscape facilitated. The ‘regular’ way of assisting someone in obtaining ODSP with a doctor who approves… is cumbersome to say the least,” Aaron Ostafie, Outreach Worker with Streetscape describes, “Dr. Loveday assisted many of our clients with access to ODSP and follow-up ODSP reviews. I don’t even think a single application we sent to ODSP was denied; Dr. Loveday wrote extensive reports on all clients.”
In his role, he has often seen that common trajectory where a child experiencing trauma who did not receive care, and who did not have supports to provide hope, becomes an adult struggling with addiction and mental health issues. “It’s become almost natural to see how trauma can lead to abusing substances to deal with their mental health issues, which can lead to criminal activity, which can lead to the dissolution of everything else,” Dr. Ben illustrates. “Working here has opened my eyes to the issues street-involved individuals deal with, and how these services offered through Mission Services and other agencies are so essential to filling in the gaps in care.”
As of April 24th, Dr. Ben’s journey returned to working with youth and adolescents, which meant wrapping up his involvement with Mission Services. He has enjoyed his time working with a dedicated staff group at each branch and he is looking to the future, taking the knowledge he has gained from this position to help young people in need.
“Dr. Loveday was a key component to many of our clients’ care plans; he was very much essential to counselling service, assessment, and diagnosis for the previously undiagnosed or medically unsupported. He will be missed,” Aaron Ostafie reflects.
“To find a psychiatrist to meet with clients that struggle with addiction and mental health had been nearly impossible for many years,” Jon DeActis, Director of Quintin Warner House, expresses, “Dr. Ben approached us a few years ago to see if there was anything he could do to help us out – it was a serious answer to prayer…Having Dr. Ben arrive in jeans and a t-shirt made him someone who was approachable for our clients. No [need to travel to an external] office, no suit! Within moments, our clients knew that he was listening to them, caring for them and never in a rush. The rapport and trust he developed was beyond our wildest dreams. I’m unsure how we will do without Ben, but he is one psychiatrist we will all remember as someone who ‘did house calls’ and was a doctor who listened to his clients and respected each one of them with dignity and care.”
CMHP and Quintin Warner House are still looking for a psychiatrist to take over Dr. Ben’s position; if you are a psychiatrist who would like to explore a partnership with Mission Services of London to help care for neighbours in need, please email Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director at email@example.com
Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel, Communications & PR Coordinator