August 5, 2015

Supported and Successful Transitions – Family Engagement at Lund

Posted in Family Education, Family Engagement, Program Spotlight, Residential tagged , , , , at 7:50 am by Lund

The topics of conversation around the table on Pinterest Tuesday at Lund’s recently formed alumni group wanders between questions about the project at hand – making bags from old T-shirts – milking cows, what to do with avocado oil and the animals at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.

The group is run by Lund’s Family Engagement Specialists Laura May Ackley and Meagan DeWitt and is for women who are about to transition, or recently have transitioned, from living at Lund’s Residential Treatment Facility into living in the community.

“The women who have been living in the residential program are always surrounded by a community of peers and providers,” says Meagan. “When they transition into the community they might still have providers coming to their home but their level of peer support drastically changes. Many women also discover that finding safe and sober peers, that can also relate to their experiences as a parent in the community can be difficult. The group allows them to remain connected to a peer group that shares the experience of having been at Lund’s residential program. It also allows women who are preparing to transition to connect with other women in the community.”

The group focuses on activities that teach and reinforce independent living and parenting skills. “The specific activities are chosen by the women in the group,” says Laura May.  “The women that are getting ready to transition want to learn about certain topics or the women already living in the community struggled with certain things in their transition and want to know more about it.” The recent shopping bag activity came as part of a four week long session on bargain shopping and was inspired specifically by one of the group participants expressing her frustration that no bags were available at the Farmers Market to carry home her purchases.   The previous week, Lund’s nutrition specialist, Jillian Kirby came to the group to dispense tips and tricks on how to get the best deals at the grocery store.

Making grocery bags from old T-shirts.  Find out how here: http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-10-Minute-T-Shirt-Tote/

Making grocery bags from old T-shirts. Find out how here: http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-10-Minute-T-Shirt-Tote/

“A lot of our topics have an underlying theme of living with financial restraints,” Meagan reports, “while we want to offer them information on resources or a given topic, we also want to encourage them to think out of the box and be creative with what they have. Lastly we like to have fun. Life with children can be chaotic especially after leaving a residential program. This is a place where for 75 minutes where they can laugh, play games and connect with others and relax.”

The alumni group is only part of the family engagement work that Laura May and Meagan do. The focus of their position is to strengthen family support systems for women in treatment. They do this by working with women before they leave Lund and for six months afterwards to help them reconnect, repair and redefine relationships with family members, friends and community organizations that will be supportive of and helpful to them.   They can help women manage the practical needs of independent living and parenting while in recovery and follow up with them to make sure that all the pieces are in place and that they and their children are thriving in the community. They travel all over Vermont to follow up with women who have returned to their hometowns or relocated elsewhere in Chittenden County.

The work is funded by the SAMHSA grant that Lund received in November of 2014 Both Meagan and Laura May’s are new positions but the need was not. Clients would frequently leave Lund doing really well and then start to struggle after a couple of months. Clients themselves would also often say that they wished they had something to hold on to after they left. “Before this position began there was limited availability for the providers whom a client has become so close to, to work with them after they leave,” states Meagan. “We can act as a transitional provider in the community who knows where they have come from and help them get where they want to go.” Life at Lund is very structured and women are constantly surrounded by supportive staff members and peers. Moving to living independently has the potential to be lonely and isolated. Family Engagement provides a coordinated and comprehensive approach to continued support after discharge.

Family engagement looks different for each client as it based on the needs of their particular family. It can be practical parenting support such as working with a mom to help her feel comfortable having her child sleep is his own bedroom after sharing a room with him at Lund since he was born or going with a mom to the grocery store to help them shop within their budget.   Laura May and Meagan also work with older children in a family who have not been living at Lund with their moms, perhaps helping a mom to write letters to an older child to get them ready for mom being a more regular part of their lives once she leaves Lund or connecting with the father to help find appropriate therapists for older children. Laura May and Meagan work closely with Lund’s case managers and clinicians to provide comprehensive, wraparound support to families and help them have the best possible chance for success when they leave Lund.

“Transitioning from a treatment facility to the community while maintaining sobriety and managing a family is difficult. Having a provider that you have already built a relationship with makes the transition feel more supported and more successful,” says Laura May.

 

 

 

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