𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐈𝐬𝐚𝐚𝐜 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐏𝐥𝐮𝐬 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭?
It means that his 30 years of experience and extensive knowledge of mental health recovery is placed at the top of an organisation, this guidance and mentorship will flow to our staff and coaches, and the Recovery Coach participants with Recovery Plus Support. You are truly in the best hands.Read Isaac’s story below:My name is Isaac Sayal, the newly appointed Practice Lead Manager for Recovery Plus Support, fresh off the boat from New Zealand, and this is my first time in Australia.I am someone who has had a wide range of experience both in my life and my career. I was born in India and I grew up in the Sultanate of Oman where my parents spent thirty-three years as part of the expatriate workforce that contributed to the development of the Arabian countries. After high school in Oman, I returned to India and trained as a dentist. On completion, I worked for almost a decade in various rural communities across Northern and Central India. Working in the rural heartland of India is not something out of the manual of the Outback Doctors. We did not have a helicopter or small planes, but we travelled in open WWII jeeps, with occasional rides in bullock carts and horse-drawn carriages thrown in for fun.
The clinical and surgical experience that I gained was invaluable and I was fortunate to do many procedures that would be hospital-grade procedures in a first world country like Australia. This experience of medical and surgical work in antiquated hospitals made me consider studying community and public health.Thus, I relocated to Aotearoa – New Zealand, and completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health from The University of Auckland School of Population Health in 2006. The papers in health promotion and mental health promotion made me look at mental health rather closely as I recognised the inequality in the mental health determinants of different communities in the world. I saw a whole new world speaking a new language. I became familiar with wellness, recovery, resilience, strengths, participation, partnership, empowerment, and self-determination. And suddenly, I was looking at this field with a different lens. I was no longer an outsider looking at a bunch of crazy people but an advocate, a supporter, a coach, a specialist who would go to any lengths to find and utilise every available resource that would support recovery in the people that I cared for.
My first role was in a high-needs residential facility for older residents with diagnoses of Paranoid Schizophrenia. This facility was a designated home for life for those who had come through the old school of mental health treatment. They were the product of a system where pharmacology was the king and containment was the focus of treatment. I am sure some of you will remember Jack Nicholson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This was where I laid the foundation of my journey and where I was taught that these were not a bunch of lost souls, but they were people who had stories to tell. They had families who cared for them and they were people who needed respect. They were not prisoners being kept caged and alive. They were people needing care and nurturing. The service focus was to improve their quality of life. Yes, there were days of significant and acute episodes requiring crisis support but that was part of the entire package and I could not take one part and leave out the rest.After one year in residential services, I moved across to case-management in the community and became part of an award-winning mobile service that encouraged the principles of client recovery through utilising available community resources. Much of my work involved working actively with the clients in supported housing options to assist them to move into independent housing. To ensure their successful transition into the community, I focused on capacity building as the chief contributor to their recovery. I learned the importance of maintaining internal treatment guidelines from the Ministry of Health and the Mental Health Clinical Teams. I learned to maintain a balancing act that required me to develop and maintain functioning relationships with other stakeholders such as other government agencies like social welfare, corrections, probation, justice, primary health care providers, family, and education providers.One year later saw myself working on the other side of the fence when I joined the district health board as a needs assessor who assessed the needs of a person and referred them to residential facilities in South Auckland. I had access management authority to almost twenty residential facilities, five forensic beds in a secure residential rehab, and three inpatient wards in the mental health hospital. My experience with the secure residential rehab and the mental health inpatient taught me to appreciate and recognise the difference between an ‘average’ mental health worker and a skilled case-manager/community living specialist/recovery coach. It was clear to see that those people who had a shorter stay in these facilities almost always had one or two exceptionally dedicated community specialists involved in their care.While working as a needs assessor, I enrolled at the School of Business and Enterprise at the University of Auckland as I recognised that the mental health industry was undergoing a transition and there was a focus on services being split and made into contracts for non-government organisations (NGOs) to manage.
This saw me move into contract management of three residential contracts housing twenty residents between them, three community contracts servicing one hundred and fifty community-based clients. I had between fifteen to twenty direct reports consisting of residential and mobile recovery champions, social workers, Occupational Therapists, and Cultural Support Workers. I was responsible for their recruitment, supervision, and professional development. As a side project, I was instrumental in setting up a casual pool that provided casual staff to various residential facilities managed by my organisation across the greater Auckland region. Working in the NGO sector provided me with an opportunity to evidence personal adaptability, capability, and capacity in supporting my organisation during an organisational change and a time of unplanned crisis. I got a first-hand experience of change management resulting from a major organisational restructure.
During this time, I completed my MBA where my dissertation looked at a model of service sharing between small to medium scale non-governmental organisations. As the manager of these contracts, I was able to draw upon my combined case management and assessment skills. These skills helped inform my practice and I was able to guide my teams to motivate and promote independence in the people under our collective care. We had a well-documented and well-demonstrated ability to work effectively with high needs and complex clients. After four years of contract management, staff supervision, support plans, relapse prevention plans, community engagement forums, clinical meetings, and governance meetings, it was time to recharge my batteries and to refocus my direction.I returned to the School of Population to satisfy the requirements of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa–New Zealand (DAPAANZ) and enrolled in assessment, treatment, and intervention of Substance Use Disorder (SUD). During these studies, I went back to work for the government and worked with the regional alcohol and drug service. I worked as an alcohol and drug clinician with the Opioid Substitution Service and worked to coordinate and support each client’s treatment and recovery. The role covered most of the interventions required by a person who was dependent on injecting heroin or other opioid derivatives. We followed a Harm Reduction approach to promote recovery. This involved Evidence-Based practice involving Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST) informed through the latest research. I worked there for almost eight years, becoming a senior clinician and a Clinical Supervisor providing supervision to a multi-disciplinary team of AOD clinicians, Social Workers, and Registered Nurses.
I became proficient in using Motivational Interviewing (MI) to bring about behavioural change in the service users. My proficiency in MI was recognised when I wrote a training module that was endorsed and adopted by Smoke-Free New Zealand. This module was designed for Quit Smoking Coaches. The module encouraged the Quit Coaches to apply MI techniques when having quit conversations with reluctant to quit smokers. I have also used Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to inform my practice and help my clients to recognise and change problematic patterns of thinking and behaving. The CBT techniques I learned were put to good use in the group therapy that has been adopted as a treatment model in New Zealand since 2015. Additionally, to add value to my supervision techniques, I completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Supervision. In fulfillment of its requirement, I presented a paper on a new model of supervision where I used coffee as a metaphor.With almost 30+ years of experience in healthcare, mental health, and addictions, I am a recognised Co-Existing Problems (CEP) or Dual Diagnosis (DD) specialist who is a champion health promoter committed to promoting wellness and recovery.
My service delivery stems from a desire to deliver efficient and focused outcomes for service users to support them become a part of empowered communities. I believe that an empowered individual will take the lead in recognising and utilising available resources and moving towards building their own capacities. I am excited at the prospect of working with you all and with Recovery Plus Support in its present form or any future shape this pioneering organisation will take.