Building the Bridge: Looking to Ontario’s EPI Occupational Therapists and Vocational Counsellors for their expertise, challenges and ideas to bridge the gap between our clients and their employment goals.



K. Tanner, C. Newbigging, R. McKee

The benefits of employment to our clients are numerous, including quality of life, reduced symptoms and hospitalizations and this is represented in the First-Episode Psychosis Services Fidelity Scale (FEPS-FS) (Luciano et al. 2014). The FEPS-FS specificies Individual Placement and Support (IPS) principles, including the presence of a trained Supported Employment Specialist (SE Specialist), however many EPI programs in Ontario struggle to implement this core item to receive a rating of 5/5. The FEPS-FS acknowledges that “Few, if any, programs in Ontario have someone with this designation. This item requires that an SE specialist be part of the EPI team to score greater than 1 (Addington, 2016).” This project looks to better understand the barriers that EPI teams experience to implementing the IPS model and further using these results to explore more meaningful outcome measures for implementing IPS with the EPI population. Current research in this area attempts to apply employment outcomes primarily used in research with adults directly to the youth and young adult population and as result, the outcomes being used to assess the effectiveness of the IPS model may not be reflective of the employment goals of youth and young adults with mental illness (Burke-Miller, 2012; Newbigging & Tidd, 2017). Reliable evidence will be essential to support any changes in funding and service delivery to bridge the gap between a 1 out of 5 and a 5 out of 5 on the FEPS-FS and perhaps that could include a partnership between healthcare and employment sectors thus bridging the gap between these two services so that fewer clients fall through the cracks.

Clinicians Managers Researchers