Community implementation and evaluation of acceptance and commitment training (ACT) for family caregivers
- Johanna Lake, Center for Addiction and Mental Health and University Health Network
- Yona Lunksy, Center for Addiction and Mental Health
- Kenneth Fung, University Health Network
- Kids Brain Health Network
- Azrieli Foundation
Family caregivers of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs) often experience stress and mental health difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression); however, there are few services to support their wellbeing. Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT), which increases acceptance and mindfulness skills to help people cope, may be helpful to them. Our ACT-based intervention is unique in that it is co-designed and co-delivered by clinicians and caregivers together. We found that caregivers of people with autism and FASD who participated in our workshops reported feeling less depressed, stressed and isolated. We have started to train new caregivers and clinicians from across Canada to deliver ACT workshops, both in-person and virtually. An important next step is to support our newly trained facilitators to deliver ACT to caregivers of people with NDDs in their communities, and to better understand how it works when implemented in real-world conditions. We also want to understand what makes it easy or hard for caregivers and clinicians to co-lead the intervention together. These findings will help us successfully spread our partnered ACT intervention to other agencies and communities, and contribute to the movement of empowering caregivers to have their voices heard in co-creating, co-designing, and co-delivering interventions for other caregivers.