Mental Health Services

Housing Options: Choice vs. Regulations

To meet the requirement of Section III.D.3 of its Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that the state move residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of the current training centers and into community based settings, the Commonwealth of Virginia plans to close four of the state operated training centers and add 4,170 new ID Waiver slots. The Southeastern Virginia Training Center will remain open and provide 75 residential beds.

Striving towards Superior Customer Service—Are we there yet?

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” Mahatma Gandhi

In today’s social economy, the key to standing apart from the competition is the ability to provide exemplary customer service. Although there are many tools, strategies and trainings available to help organizations provide exemplary customer experiences, it really boils down to engaging in three activities:

Evidence-based Practice or Practice-based Evidence?

In the mental health community, we have all come to live under the hegemony of “empirically based care,” led by payors, auditors, governmental authorities (read SAMSHA), our own licensing boards, and administrators—like myself—desperate to demonstrate that their psychotherapeutic services are cost effective.

But are they? I’m not convinced that we are doing our profession or our clients a great service by following this policy, and I’m unsure where it ultimately leads us.

The Hard Work of Decreasing Residential Lengths of Stay

Parents and other referral sources often ask me how long their child will need residential services. My standard answer is, “it depends”. The problem with my answer is that many people disagree on what the factors are that make up my answer “it depends”. I have completed many literature reviews on factors related to lengths of stay in residential treatment. This research can be confusing and often contradict previous reviews. Many factors have been examined including ethnicity, age, parental involvement, parental substance abuse, access to aftercare (hours/transportation), social economic status, and child diagnosis to name a few.

Educational Innovation with Jason Learning and Urban Tech

I admit it. I gave my seven year old an iPod Touch for Christmas. Although this has resulted in a precipitous increase in dreaded “screen time,” there have been other impacts as well. Last night for example, she showed me an app she was playing with, which seemed to involve some complicated rubric for efficiently operating a small farm. It was bright and engaging, with cute little cows, and tiny helpful farmhands. I briefly attempted to take over the management, and, much to her horror, productivity dropped immediately – the Dustbowl had begun. I simply couldn’t acquire the rules and cause/effect relationships as quickly as she could. Her ability to learn, mediated only by the software, is unbelievable.

I was thinking about my daughter’s experience recently, when Grafton invited representatives of Jason Learning, a nonprofit organization that connects students to real science and exploration, and UrbanTech, a nonprofit educational group, to a full-day symposium.

VA the ACA and Medicaid Expansion

In March of 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). One of the ACA’s major provisions is Medicaid expansion. Under the law, states can broaden the Medicaid financial eligibility criteria to families and individuals making up to 133% of the federal poverty level ($15,400 per individual or $32,000 per family of four).This could provide access to more of Grafton’s lower income clients and many others across the state, but unfortunately at this time, the Virginia General Assembly has chosen not to expand this important program.

Why Australia?

There is nothing more mind-bending about Grafton than its involvement with the State of Victoria in Australia! It seems strange somehow that a 50-year-old provider based in Virginia would be sending teams 10,000 miles away for the purpose of training and case consultation. This may seem especially strange to those of us embroiled in the day-to-day challenge of providing life changing care to our clients back home during this turbulent era of American healthcare reform.