The Two-Agency Visit, Essay Example
March 3rd, 2015 was my initial day visiting Project Live. “Wow, this place is nice and clean.” That was my first expression when I first arrived at Project Live. It did not look like a mental health facility but rather as a nurturing place that seeks the good. Project live is located at 455 Broadway in Newark NJ. Their website can be found with the web address projectlive.org and their office number is 9733256233. The staff members I interviewed were Alicia who is a clinical supervisor, and Matt, the resident counselor. Their office hours are from 8 in the morning to 5pm every day.
Project live is a private non-profit organization that offers a wide variety of rehabilitation and residential services to mentally ill adults from the Essex county. The agency provides supported employment programs to its ex-residents, residents, and any other mental health consumers in the Essex County. “There is no waiting list for this program” she said. The program is for individuals who are 18 years or older and have an axis 1 diagnosis. This program entails an ongoing job coaching and support for employed individuals working in part-time and full-time positions at market wages. They also provide on-the-job training for several part time repair or maintenance, landscaping, clerical positions, and housekeeping. Most of these individuals work with Magic Touch Management (MTM) an organization that works to repair and maintain the residential houses as well as houses outside of the community. While I was there two of the MTN workers came in to fix a broken window. Alicia introduced me to them and prompted me to ask questions as they were individuals associated with them in MTN. Finding this opportunity useful I initiated conversation with one guy by the name of Mike that has been working with the company for three years now. I asked if there was a waiting list and he said no. If only you are ready to explore and ready to be in the workforce then there is no need to wait. He said the program really helped him come back on his feet in terms of being able to live independently and taking care of his bills and needs. The company is open Monday through Friday. Alicia said Project Live encourages independent living through comprehensive psychiatric rehabilitation. For them, it is believed that employment services will enhance career development.
As aforementioned, this program focuses on hiring service users to carry out property management such as rent collecting and repairs on Broadway apartments and other properties they own as well. She mentioned that before they would not hire residents and ex-residents but now they have integrated that into their individual goals. Furthermore, Magic Touch Management makes all the employment opportunities that they receive readily possible or available.
Another program that they provide is the Project for assistance in the transition from homelessness (PATH). This program is funded by the Division of Mental Health Services. This was actually awarded to them in order for them to expand their outreach program. To be eligible for this service, you must have an axis 1 diagnosis of mental illness and homelessness as well. There is no waiting list for this program too because this is an outreach program where they take the mentally ill out of the street. She said their process involves obtaining a social work identification and helping them get their benefits as well. Then they will bring them in and will get them a voucher and get them into housing. With this program, it is the staff that will determine what the consumer requires and will provide it. They aim to provide a decent safe and affordable housing of their choice. She said most do stay permanently after outreach, but some choose to go or run back to the street where they feel comfortable.
Within this organization, they also provide Intensive Residential Program (IRP), which is an intensive 24/7 hours program, which is fundamentally a housing operation. They have 6 group homes in Essex County. The role of this is to monitor the service users intensively. “Most of the service users come straight from the mental hospital like Greystone Park” she said. This provides support to help achieve and maintain stability. They also teach them adult living skills and independent living skills. These skills enable them to do things independently should they move into supported housing and live alone. The staff is also there to help them achieve their personal goals.
Transitional housing is another program that they provide. For an individual to qualify for this program the individual must have an axis 1 diagnosis and be 18 years of age or older. With this program, Matt stated that they have two houses that they call Mental Illness and Chemical Abusers MICA house that is for MICA clients only. That is Ridge house and Roseville house. Their target is for the service users to live there for two years and then move on for more independent living. That is what they say to the intensive residential program IRP residents with the ultimate goal of not staying there forever but to transition into a more independent living. They also go to programs 5 days a week and the focus is on their mental illness and substance abuse. Some have been there for three, four, and even five years at times. The third house has MICA clients and non-MICA clients as well. This is because they are transitional into the Lincoln house preparing them to live independently. They are taking more of the transitional model since things are changing as she said and they want them to live independently.
Another program they provide is the supported housing program. To be eligible, you must be 18 years of age or older and have an axis 1 diagnosis. With this program there is a waiting list since the number of individuals who needs assistance is alarmingly high. They have apartments and houses all over Essex County. They believe housing is not just a roof over a person’s head as Alicia said but rather a place to call home. Basically, people get a voucher from where they are coming from and anybody can apply as long as they have an axis1 diagnosis. Some individuals even come out straight from the hospital. Some of their houses are owned or managed properties that consist of apartment building or shared housing units. The government funds this program.
Furthermore, they also offer support services like how to budget money and ceasing to smoke as well. Learning how to budget money has helped many of their service users to learn how to save and use money wisely. The program that aids them to cease to smoke also educates members on how to quit smoking. With this, she stated it is difficult to convince the client and only a few have been successful but they will continue to help them quit.
Project live has a slogan “Clean safe and well supervised.” My overall impression was excellent because of their resemblance of exactly what their slogan says. The staff members were warm and welcoming when I got there. Three of their staff members even offered to do the tour with me, but Matt and Alicia did it in the end. They are professionals and they know what they are doing. Alicia told me they receive training as often as possible to keep them up. The surroundings were tidy and safe. Alicia also said they often have fire drills just for safety reasons to prepare them should anything happened. This is the kind of place I will go and receive quality service. In addition, the interaction between the service users and staff is extremely effective and interactive. Some have been there for 15 to 18 years so there is a strong and fruitful bond between them. Alicia, for instance, told me this is the tenth year that she has been there. The relationship between her and the service users is awesome. Everywhere she enters they keep calling her because they are fond of her, which is something to be greatly valued. They live like a family. One of the psychiatric rehabilitation values she mentions is to treat each other and everyone with respect and dignity. With that alone I would refer someone to this institution.
One thing Alicia said about diversity is, “This agency does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, gender, physical or mental handicap, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity.” They are open to diversity and value the cultures of other people. They have individuals from all over the world including: Jamaica, Cameroon, Hispanics, Africans and many more. Even in their outreach program PATH they do not discriminate because of your skin color or the place where you are from.
Moreover, as previously mentioned Project Live is located all around Essex County, which makes it readily accessible to be located. Getting there too is not a problem since buses run over there frequently. For me, getting there was easy and completely hassle-free. With the service users, Project Live provides vans to all their residential houses to make it easier for them to maneuver around too. As previously mentioned, the entire location is completely safe.
Project Live staff members are required to have some form of education depending on their position. For a clinical counselor, you will need to have a driver’s license and a degree in any psychology field. As aforementioned, for a substance abuse counselor you will need a bachelor’s degree as well. “Things are changing, however, and they are now requiring masters degrees Alicia included.”
The New Essecare LLC, is the second agency that I visited on March 11th, 2015. The agency address is 20 Main St., City of Orange, NJ 07050. The office number is 9734140091 and the website for their agency can be found at the address http://www.essexresourcenet.org/search/new-essecare-llc/. The person I had the pleasure of interviewing with is Cecilia Home LSW the agency director. She is very pleasant to talk to and their office hours are Monday through Fridays 8:45 am to 3:15pm.
The New Essex is an adult partial care program and their goal is to promote independent living and reduce hospitalization as well as to develop community living skills. They provide rehabilitation services, support, counseling, case management and psychosocial services, but all these happen in a therapeutic setting meaning a place to promote good health for individuals with mental illness. They provide support services to individuals who have an axis 1 diagnosis and are 18 years of age and older. They also have Medicare benefits as well. Their treatment team consists of psychiatry, counseling, social work, art therapy, nursing, substance abuse and pre-vocational specialists.
They offer intake and assessment to individuals who have an axis 1 diagnosis. Cecilia said the intake and assessment they provide prevails with an initial meeting with the client. During that period, the case manager will gather information to address clients’ needs to encourage his or her retention and engagement in their services. She also mentioned that they screen the clients to see if they need case management services and if they happened to then they will assign the case manager model that best suits the individual user for the intake/assessment. With this service there is no waiting list. If you walk in today they will take you right away and do an intake assessment on you. This is a behavioral health service and is open to all residents in NJ.
They also have Mental Illness and Chemical Abuser MICA tract that she said provides specialized intensive substance abuse treatment and maintenance for the MICA clients in the program. Cecilia then said for someone to be eligible, the person must have an axis 1 diagnosis and be 18 years of age or older. They also have different groups under the MICA track program that are growing in substance abuse families, staying clean, and understanding mental illness and substance abuse. With the growing number of individuals in substance abuse families group, they talk about how it is like to be in a family who are substance abusers. They are all like support for each other since they share their experiences. Also, ways in which they cope within their family. They also teach them ways to cope with families especially when they want to be sober. She also stressed that a good outcome has come out from this program in terms of the number of individuals who have been able to quit using substances or drugs even though they faced challenges at home with their family’s actions.
Staying clean is another program under the MICA tract where they teach them ways to stay clean. She mentioned that with this group they help them find positive support that makes them feel comfortable and leads them towards good health and recovery. For instance, say if you like writing they will encourage you to join a writing group. She mentioned again that they teach them or advise these individuals to choose people that will support their decisions not to drink, while they are out there. They also let them set goals that they will like to accomplish. In addition, the other under MICA tract is understanding mental illness and substance abuse. She mentioned that these groups educate the members about the effect of what the substance abuse has on mental illness especially when taking medications. They also educate members about their illnesses and to understand them.
Furthermore, another service The New Essecare LLC provides is supported employment. This program is open to anyone 18 years of age and older with an axis 1 diagnosis. This program is for anyone that wishes to explore and prepare for new possibilities or to return to the workforce. The staff gradually searches the job for the client and in this way allows the client to adjust to the idea of going back to work. This program consists of pre-employment assessment, basic skill training, overcoming barriers to employment, accessing employment information, symptoms management, resume writing, interview skills, job application and workshop. They receive all this training in other to be prepared for work. Again she made mention of sheltered workshop that they really offer to their clients. She said this is provided by their controlled work environment and this program is designed to enable individuals with mental illness move toward normal living. Sheltered workshops are facility-based day programs attended by their adult clients with disabilities as an alternative to working in the open labor market.
Apart from the above services they also provide nursing services, individual treatment planning, individual and group counseling, crisis prevention and intervention, drug and alcohol counseling, free lunch program and transportation services. They feed their clients breakfast and lunch every day, but every individual must leave home for their dinner. They have a transportation service which picks the clients from their homes to day programs. They have two vans, two shuttles, two buses and a car making it seven transportation utilities in total. This is really good for the clients especially for those that do not have any means of getting to the agency. She also mentioned that they offer training services to their staff members as well. They offer intervention and crisis training, infectious disease training and fire safety training.
My first impression of this organization was not very good. The environment was not clean and safe. A lot of clients were wondering outside with people from the outside selling cigarettes to them. Who knows what they sell to them apart from cigarettes? The environment is really not safe for the members within this institution to go back into addictions. My impression of the staff was okay everyone was busy, but they yell a lot as if they are deaf and unable to hear a word they are saying. To me, their work is good but I would not receive services here because it is not clean and lacks a safe environment. As aforementioned, the interaction between the staff and service users is okay but when I was waiting to meet Cecilia, I felt they use too much force on them, especially if they are not cooperating. I would not refer anyone here because I feel like some of the psychiatric rehabilitation values are taken for granted there. Some of these values include dignity and respect for the clients.
One thing I do like about the agency however, is their openness to diversity. Cecilia mentioned that they even have clients from Greece, some Hispanics, Haitian, Trinidad, Africans, blacks, whites, and a lot more. They are mostly black and they are also said to have about 60% of females and 40% of males. Their outreach and linkage program doesn’t discriminate the people they should help. They do not care about where you are from, your religion, sexual orientation and gender. “We treat them all as one big family” she said.
Analyzing the previously stated information, in all, for a staff member to work there, they need some requirements from them. A clinical counselor has to have a bachelor’s degree but now the requirement is changing. In that aspect, they will require a masters level education. This does not mean, however, that their support staff needs a bachelor’s degree. They are the people that clean the place and cook for the mentally ill at the agency but they serve as the backbone of the entire organization.
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