The Mustard Seed FASD Clinic

Above: Members of the FASD team Dr. Boris Lesar, Samantha Lowe, Dr. Jazmin Marlinga and Erin Bareham pose for a team photo at The Mustard Seed Wellness Centre in Calgary on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Yasmin Mayne).

Written by Erin Bareham, LPN & FASD Clinic Coordinator, The Mustard Seed Wellness Centre

The Mustard Seed is a Christian non-profit organization that has been caring for individuals experiencing extreme poverty and homelessness since 1984. The Mustard Seed provides a safe haven where we can support the whole person through basic services, housing, wellness services, employment programs, and partners within the community to address the root causes of poverty. In 2018, The Mustard Seed helped to support 5,227 individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, and our newest location in Kamloops, BC.

The Mustard Seed in Calgary has a fully functioning Wellness Centre that includes Advocacy supports that help clients connect with over 150 different agencies within the city, medical care including doctors and nurses, mental health supports including counselling and addictions counselling, and most recently, an FASD Assessment and Diagnostic Clinic that opened in September 2018, specializing in the adult populations they serve.

The FASD Clinic at The Mustard Seed is unlike any other clinic of its kind. The kind of clients that the clinic sees are often in active alcohol and drug addictions, and frequently have mental health complications. Assessments for these individuals are completely free for the client and run on the generous support of grants and donors. Our FASD Clinic has been able to “catch” those individuals who have fallen through the cracks of society – those who have never had the means to be diagnosed before now, and give them the hope that they can get out of addictions and off of the street, and live normal, healthy lives when they have the right tools to help them along the way.

The Mustard Seed FASD Clinic team consists of the Clinic Coordinator, an Occupational Therapist, a Psychologist, an Advocate to provide wrap-around services following the client diagnosis (such as assistance applying for AISH and PDD), and an FASD trained medical doctor from CUPS Health Clinic.

The “Hold” List

This is a unique way that the Mustard Seed FASD clinic handles “no shows”. Understanding the minds of those with FASD, you can imagine how they struggle with getting clients to show up for their assessments; now add addictions and mental health on top of it, and it’s almost impossible to get those clients assessed. The “Hold” list is a way to combat this common problem. The clinic schedules clients with appointments as usual, but makes those spots available to clients who may be waiting for future appointments to come in and wait for the chance to be assessed sooner. If the client that was booked in with an appointment does not show, the client waiting on “Hold” will then be seen in their place. This method has been hugely successful, and the clinic is seeing an increase in clients who are getting assessed sooner, and virtually eliminating the need for a waitlist.

The FASD clinic at The Mustard Seed Wellness Centre is ahead of their goal of 25 assessments for the year, and is looking forward to continuing to serve the most vulnerable and at-risk populations in Calgary.