Antoine Bailliard, an associate professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, has received funding from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health through a subcontract with the University of California Los Angeles as part of an interdisciplinary team to design a model of outreach teams to engage with the most vulnerable among populations experiencing homelessness. Bailliard joins Elizabeth Bromley, with UCLA, and Gary Cuddeback, with the UNC School of Social Work, on the project.

Antoine Bailliard, PhD
Antoine Bailliard, PhD

Bailliard, Cuddeback, and Bromley’s work will develop specialized outreach teams to most effectively engage with populations who are experiencing both homelessness and mental illness, such as bipolar and psychotic disorders. Additionally, they will create and pilot a behavioral scale that assists outreach workers in identifying the target population and develop training resources for outreach teams. Often, Bailliard said it is very difficult for professionals to effectively reach this cohort of the homeless population despite best efforts and intentions.

“This particular group is totally excluded from society,” Bailliard said. “There’s just a basic humanity piece to it; we need to be helping these folks.”

Bailliard, Cuddeback, and Bromley plan to pilot a behavioral scale tool that existing outreach workers can use to identify this population and, subsequently, provide a referral to a specialized team, called a HOME team. These teams will be developed to implement the most effective evidence-based interventions to support this population. HOME teams could include psychiatrists, occupational therapists, social workers and peer support specialists who have lived experience with mental illness and homelessness and are trained to work as support for those in the community.

Bailliard said existing teams working to combat homelessness in Los Angeles often do not have specialized trainings to most effectively manage the clinical complexities of the most vulnerable and marginalized people who are homeless with serious mental illness. Bailliard hopes the HOME teams will fill a major gap in existing services to target this exceptionally complex cohort of Los Angeles’ homeless population.

Los Angeles County’s population includes more than 60,000 people facing homelessness.

Bailliard said occupational scientists and occupational therapists are equipped with a nuanced understanding of how personal and environmental factors intersect to affect a person’s capacity to perform necessary activities of daily living, such as managing finances, managing a home, or cooking.

“We have a different understanding of how the environment can support and inhibit those living skills,” Bailliard said. “We’re trained in other ways to practice integrated care; […] that’s a different view than a lot of other mental health professionals have.”

Bailliard and his team plans to pilot these efforts, which he hopes will begin to serve those in other parts of the country.

“This could really explode and be something bigger,” Bailliard said. “It’s really exciting to have this potential impact. I can immediately see a tangible impact of my work. It’s engaged clinical scholarship.”

Antoine Bailliard, PhD, OTR/L, holds three degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, including in occupational therapy and occupational science. Gary Cuddeback, PhD, MSW, MPH, is the director of the Community Outcomes Research and Evaluation Center.