Navigating the proper course of treatment for a complicated mental illness can sometimes be overwhelming. These complex cases often require extensive hands-on coordination to maximize patient benefits. In these instances, case managers are assigned to assist patients in obtaining the services needed within the AltaPointe Health Systems' continuum and in the greater community. Raycina Law is just one of AltaPointe’s many case managers.
Law uses personal experiences to help others
Law says she knew early on she wanted to help people living with mental illness. Growing up, she cared for her father, who has schizophrenia, and she was diagnosed at the age of 15 with mental health issues. Law says she was hospitalized seven times as a teen. She believes her personal experiences make her a better case manager.
“I feel like it is my calling. I have been all through the system and went through a lot of therapy and different psychiatrists,” Law said. “It does make me a better case manager because I have personal experience and I can emphasize with the patient and what they are going through as well as the family.”
Law says she is proof that treatment works. “When you go to therapy and you work with a therapist to learn coping skills, you can really go beyond letting your disorder define you,” Law added. “Even though I do not like the idea of having to take medicine to be normal…it works. If you do what your therapist recommends, you can be whatever you want to be.”
Trauma-informed care helpful
Law is also an advocate for trauma-informed care. She credits an AltaPointe therapist from her teens with showing her she is not a victim but a survivor of trauma. The National Council for Behavioral Healthcare says trauma is a risk factor in nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders. In public behavioral health, more than 90 percent of clients have experienced trauma.
“For my treatment team to know that my Dad was schizophrenic and to know my history of abuse, and what I went through explains why I may have had low self-esteem or other issues,” Law shared. “Being trauma-informed is important to providing care that is best for me.”
AltaPointe introduces trauma-informed care via the Grafton Model
AltaPointe adopted The Grafton Model, which has been recognized by national organizations such as The National Council for Behavioral Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The goal is to develop a trauma-informed approach to care that encourages staff members to employ positive treatment strategies, which minimize using restrictive practices and generate positive outcomes.
As a case manager who has lived with mental illness, Law understands the importance of practicing trauma-informed care for exceptional outcomes for AltaPointe patients.
Grafton’s ‘comfort versus care’ makes significant difference at BayPointe
The numbers don’t lie: Grafton and Ukeru have made a significant difference at BayPointe Hospital for both the children and the staff. Since trauma-informed care was introduced at the hospital in 2014, restraints are down almost 75 percent, and morale among staff has increased. The “comfort versus care protocol” required a reworking of the existing treatment regimen and the full commitment of the administration and all staff.
Some Grafton champions, a group delegated with leading the program, recently shared their thoughts on why the program has been successful.
“Staff at all levels are now an active part of the therapeutic care we provide our patients,” explained Jennifer Burns, coordinator of Lemoyne School day treatment program. “Staff members have access to individualized care plans that spell out each patient’s needs and triggers; it makes the staff more empathetic in their care.”
Donald McGraw, recreational team leader, thinks the communication’s component of Grafton and Ukeru has been a key factor. “So much of the success in reducing the number of restraints and seclusions is the communication between patients and staff members,” he said. “If a patient begins to show aggressive behavior, they are encouraged to use the coping skills they have been taught. We talk with them and with each other, making sure we keep both the patient and the staff safe.”
Three years ago, Grafton also was introduced into the transitional age residential program for young adults 18-21. Yuleidys Ramirez, assistant coordinator of transitional age services shares, “When Grafton was introduced I was a therapist at BayPointe and could see the immediate effect that it was having for our patients and the staff. I now work with AltaPointe’s transage services and see the results of Grafton here as well: decrease in aggressive behaviors and destruction of property.”
BayPointe Hospital and transitional age services continue training new staff to adapt to the trauma-informed care programs and to reinforce what existing staff members have already learned. The hope is that one day these protocols can be adapted throughout the continuum.