SHOP/TRAC/TMRS Participate in Stanislaus County’s Point-In-Time Count

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The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) mandates an annual Point-In-Time count and survey of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Telecare’s SHOP/TRAC/TMRS, initially just SHOP, was asked by Stanislaus County in 2003 to assist with the Point-In-Time count and have assisted every year since then. There are various other county and community agencies that either volunteer to participate in the count or donate bags of goodies to include snacks, socks, blankets and lists of local resources. The Point-In-Time count is an important effort that ensures the voices of people experiencing homelessness in our communities are heard and efforts are made to provide appropriate services. It also helps Stanislaus County develop more effective plans and measure progress towards ending homelessness.

The Performance Improvement Team has provided a survey tool that provides a means for gathering information directly from the individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness about their needs and causes of homelessness. One of the most prominent issues is the lack of stable and affordable housing options. Efforts to target this area are evident with the creation of the Stanislaus Homeless Outreach & Engagement Center.

Telecare’s Outreach & Engagement Team enjoys participating in the annual count to build and maintain relationships, listen to the amazing stories told and to better understand the needs of this population. Huge shout-out to this team for never complaining about such an early start and always being willing to serve others the best way they can!

San Bernardino ACT Goes Above and Beyond in their County!

San Bernardino County’s Department of Behavioral Health recently recognized a staff member at Telecare’s San Bernardino ACT program for going above and beyond. Check out what our county customer said below, and congratulations to Rebecca for the great work!

Last night, one of your Telecare ACT’s staff, Rebecca, was very helpful to me and my partner. We had a difficult case, in which a client came to ARMC with very little information, except that she is a Telecare client and her name, due to her low cognition. Rebecca assisted us with trying to piece together of which Telecare program. She helped us contacted other Telecare programs to see if the client is open with them. Once we’ve came to the conclusion that the client is from Riverside County, she provided us with RISE number. She contacted us back to ensure that we made contact with RISE at the end of our shift. Please extend our appreciation to Rebecca (I don’t know her last name) for assisting us during her after hour call. She spent about an hour with us trying to figure out who and where our client came from and was very gracious and patient with us.
— Ann Pham, County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health

Cordilleras Suites Celebrate the Season

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The residents and staff of Cordilleras Suites celebrated the season of giving with their annual Thanksgiving Tree. This year’s theme was gratitude, inspired by one of the principles of RCCS. The tree was up for several weeks and displayed all of the things that residents were grateful for in their lives. It was a wonderful display of their values, their hopes and dreams, and ultimately, of themselves.

California Fires: Southern California

As you may know, California continues to experience a devastating wave of wildfires. The most recent fire outbreaks have been in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, and are spreading to other nearby counties. The fires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of natural areas as well as homes and businesses. Thousands have already been evacuated and thousands more are expected to be evacuated in the coming days, as the fires move into densely populated areas. Firefighters have warned of extreme fire risk, with high winds and dry conditions prevalent across the region. The smoke has temporarily closed Highway 101, a major freeway in the area, and several schools and businesses have closed due to smoke and fire risk.

As a mental health provider with program locations in these areas, we are acutely and sorrowfully aware of how our employees, the people we serve, and these communities are being affected by the fires. We have made a donation to the Red Cross on behalf of everyone at Telecare Corporation to help with general disaster relief.

Important to Know:

  • We have heard reports that Lyft is offering free rides up to $40 for evacuees to evacuation centers in LA County who used the promo code "LASAFERIDES." You may wish to confirm this in your area. 

Fire Evacuation information:

  • Los Angeles County closures, evacuation map and alerts: (Link)
  • Ventura County evacuation and fire alerts: (Link)
  • Santa Barbara County evacuation and fire alerts: (Link)
  • San Diego County evacuation and fire alerts: (Link)

 How You Can Help:

Donate Money: 
(Ventura County) Thomas Fire Fund: The United Way of Ventura County, American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services have teamed up to create the Thomas Fire Fund.

(Los Angeles): Red Cross LA

  • Cash donations to the Los Angeles Area Red Cross can be made here: (Link)

YouCaring

  • YouCaring, an online crowd-funding platform, has created a landing page with all of its campaigns for Southern California wildfire relief.

Humane Society of Ventura County

LA County Animal Care Foundation

Donate Time: American Red Cross/Other Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers of all kinds are encouraged to register with the Red Cross.  Licensed clinical mental health workers are especially needed to provide support in the communities affected. 
To find out how to help, call: 707- 577-7600 or go to the Red Cross Volunteer page to sign up to volunteer.

Coping With Trauma After a Natural Disaster

Aftermath of sonoma county's tubbs fire in the coffey park neighborhood of santa rosa, California. Image by the national guard.

Aftermath of sonoma county's tubbs fire in the coffey park neighborhood of santa rosa, California. Image by the national guard.

The fires in Northern California destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, devastated communities, and impacted thousands more beyond its reach. The Tubbs Fire missed Telecare’s Sonoma ACT program in Santa Rosa, California, but destroyed 36,000 acres of their surrounding community, and killed 22 people over the course of eight days.

Staff and members of Sonoma ACT are all accounted for and safe, however many had to evacuate and one staff person lost the home where she was moving into. "It was an unbelievable event to live through," said AJ Rylaarsdam, administrator of Sonoma ACT. "Having a fear for life, a fear for property, a fear for community — it was heartbreaking. Apocalyptic has been the way to describe it.”

Sonoma ACT Administrator AJ Rylaarsdam

Sonoma ACT Administrator AJ Rylaarsdam

While the members we served are all safe, the invisible wounds of trauma from a natural disaster can still affect people in many different ways. We chatted with AJ about her experience managing a natural disaster in real time and got a few tips on how to address the trauma that unfolds afterward.

What was your initial reaction when you got the call about the fires?

I was called at 6 a.m. to evacuate my house, so I did that first. While I was evacuating, my clinical director, Diana Freedman, who lives in Petaluma and was slightly removed from the fires, made calls to each staff member to account for everyone and ensure their safety. I went to the office that morning, but the area was not safe to be in, so that day we notified everyone to take care of their personal safety first until we had more information. Most of our work involves driving throughout the community to see members, but due to the high winds and rapid movement of the fire, it was unclear where it was safe to drive or where the fires even were.

How did you get in contact with Sonoma ACT members?

As the fires continued uncontained throughout the week, evacuations continued in different areas, so the entire time was a process of accounting for all of our members. We went to visit them in their homes, provided directions and education on evacuation centers, encouraged them to stay in their home as much as possible because the air quality was so bad, but then also to follow any directions by police or firefighters if there were evacuations. Diana had all calls coming into the office directed to her, and our communications stayed open 24/7.

Are there any practices from Trauma Informed Care you called on to move through this event with staff and members?

An important part of Trauma Informed Care is taking universal precautions. In first aid training, taking universal precautions means we don’t know who might have a communicable disease, so we’re going to put on gloves. After a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, when you have an encounter with someone you’re going to treat them in a way that’s sensitive to someone who may have had trauma. One aspect of what that looks like is a lot of asking permission: “Is this conversation okay?” “My plan is we were going to talk about this, is that okay?”

How did you use Telecare's Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

This has been a fantastic resource. Shortly after we returned to the office, a counselor from MHN (Telecare's EAP provider) came in to educate the team about mental health after a natural disaster. Certain symptoms of trauma and PTSD, like difficulty focusing, might become apparent outright, but many symptoms may not be as visible. As mental health care workers, we have powerful reserves. It's essential to take care of each other in a way that recognizes a lot of the symptoms are invisible. You may think someone's okay, and they may think they are okay, but it will serve us all to continue to check-in in a concrete, ongoing way.

I also encouraged staff to take advantage of the EAP program individually. We're going to meet with a counselor again as a team after the holidays, and maybe three months after that, just to ensure that not only the people exhibiting overt symptoms of distress are getting help.

How You Can Help:

Donate Money: 
American Red Cross
Sonoma County Resilience Fund
Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund
Redwood Credit Union

Donate Time: American Red Cross/Other Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers of all kinds are encouraged to register with the Red Cross.  Licensed clinical mental health workers are needed to provide support in the communities affected. 
To find out how to help, call: 707- 577-7600 or click here to sign up to volunteer.  

You can also contact Ricardo Martinez, DGS Chief Procurement Officer, at 916-317-6451 or ricardo.martinez@dgs.ca.gov 

Alameda County licensed clinicians are encouraged to volunteer as well: for more information on how to volunteer with the County efforts, please contact Todd.stephenson@acgov.org.

More Resources:
Sonoma County Community Information Page
County Mental Health Services (for all of California)

For a roundup of crisis and emergency support resources, click here.

Practicing Gratitude Throughout the Year

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Thanksgiving is a holiday that readily embraces gratitude, but studies show we should be embracing it more than just one day a year. Harvard Health Publishing cites gratitude as helping "people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."

Nina Kalley-Wilson, Recovery Specialist, and Angela Duncan, Peer Recovery Coach, created a gratitude tree for staff and clients to post "leaves of gratitude" for all to see at thurston mason evaluation and treatment center in olympia, washington.

Nina Kalley-Wilson, Recovery Specialist, and Angela Duncan, Peer Recovery Coach, created a gratitude tree for staff and clients to post "leaves of gratitude" for all to see at thurston mason evaluation and treatment center in olympia, washington.

The practice of gratitude can bring many health benefits, but sometimes it seems difficult to get past the outrage of the day's events. At Telecare, gratitude is used as a component of our Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS). Our programs also like to work it into their culture, such as when our Thurston Mason Evaluation and Treatment (E&T) program created a "gratitude tree" filled with leaves detailing what staff and clients are grateful for and what brings them hope. They placed the tree on a central wall where it can be enjoyed by all and added to as the days go by.

"Having experienced recovery, gratitude keeps me humble and helps me remember where I am right now and keep the momentum to move forward," said Angela Duncan, a Peer Recovery Coach at Thurston Mason E&T. "Last year I was grateful to get a grant to pay for electricity; this year I have a job to pay it!"

"Gratitude allows us to center on the here and now and really feel the hope and support in our lives," said Nina Kalley-Wilson, Recovery Specialist at Thurston Mason E&T. "We asked about the here and now, as well as what individuals will be grateful for when they return home."

Below, we compiled a few ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Take a few minutes. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit in your favorite place—a garden, your room, your backyard. Reflect on the day and make a list of three things in your life for which you are grateful. Share it with a friend and pass the gratitude forward!
  2. Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down a few things for which you are grateful. Focus on people, pets, or your health, rather than material objects, and try to mix it up from time to time to expand your awareness of the offerings around you.
  3. Write a thank you note. Letters of appreciation go for miles, and in the age of social media the chance of getting a written one has significantly dropped. Write a note to someone expressing your appreciation for their impact on your life and drop it in the mail.
  4. Give a compliment on a daily basis. Whether it be directed at someone or sharing your appreciation of something close by, a few words of recognition can open a world of possibilities. In 1906 Mark Twain said, "I can live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing else to eat." Imagine how far this simple gesture goes in 2017.
  5. Join a cause you find important. Whether it's donating time, money, or skills, standing behind something you believe in can offer newfound appreciation for communities, as well as newfound appreciation for yourself.

 

LA Leaders Explore Underground Downtown LA

This month, Telecare's Los Angeles leaders got together to journey through downtown LA’s underground, visiting old speakeasies and haunted hotels.

The group heard scary stories, met some of downtown LA’s resident artists and curators, had delicious food at city staple Weird Clifton’s Republic, and went on a tour through the Last Bookstore.

The tour culminated with a sage cleansing ceremony—to get rid of any bad vibes they might have caught visiting the famous sites.

San Bernardino Team Building

In the summer, San Bernardino ACT/MAPS/FACT/TIE-CC & BHICCI staff gathered for a team building experience that incorporated the RCCS values and principals through painting.

Staff were divided into five teams and created a mural that represented one of the RCCS principles and values: judgment, individual uniqueness, power, spirituality, respect. It was a fun and collaborative experience that allowed each staff member to work together showing each staffs artistic ability. The paintings are now displayed on our walls as a reminder of the foundation of the services we provide.

Willow Rock's Clinical Director Recognized as 2017 Field Instructor of the Year by University of California, Berkeley

From left to right: Julie Hodges, Director of Nursing at Willow Rock; John Adam, Administrator at Willow Rock; Anne Bakar, President and CEO of Telecare; Ilene Yasemsky, Clinical Director at Willow Rock; Jennifer Jackson, Field Consultant and Lecturer at UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare; Greg Merrill, Director of Field Education at UC Berkely's School of Social Welfare 

From left to right: Julie Hodges, Director of Nursing at Willow Rock; John Adam, Administrator at Willow Rock; Anne Bakar, President and CEO of Telecare; Ilene Yasemsky, Clinical Director at Willow Rock; Jennifer Jackson, Field Consultant and Lecturer at UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare; Greg Merrill, Director of Field Education at UC Berkely's School of Social Welfare 

Earlier this month, the University of California, Berkeley, recognized Ilene Yasemsky as 2017 Field Instructor of the Year at Telecare’s Willow Rock Center in San Leandro, California.

Telecare’s CEO, Anne Bakar, and a few of Ilene’s colleagues at Willow Rock joined representatives from UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare for an afternoon honoring the “clinical goddess” they call Ilene.

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“If [Ilene] could take every community mental health student, we would send them here,” said Jennifer Jackson, Field Consultant and Lecturer at UC Berkeley. “What she offers as a teacher and a mentor is just so phenomenal and priceless, it sets a bar.”

"The magic at Willow Rock is how we join together with a common purpose," said Ilene, as she thanked everyone for their kind words. "And how, it sounds corny, but it's like this big heart. We're all a puzzle piece. We're so much better together when we bring out the best in each other because of this purpose. We're making a difference." 

This is Ilene’s seventh year working with UC Berkeley’s Field Education Program. Their mission is to “develop future leaders of the profession who challenge conventional wisdom by being deeply prepared for multilevel social work in specific areas of practice.”

The program works with 180 field instructors around the Bay Area in both inpatient and community-based programs.

“Willow Rock is the most healing, transformative locked environment I’ve ever set foot in,” said Greg Merrill, Director of Field Education at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. “There’s some magic in there, and I know part of it is you, but I also know it’s bigger than you. It’s something you invite in others, and others have contributed to creating and sustaining.”

“I don’t know all the magic,” said Anne Bakar, Telecare’s President and CEO. “But I know part of it is your passion and experience as a clinician, and also your team. You have an extraordinarily dedicated and passionate team.”

Others at the luncheon, including former interns of Ilene’s who now work at Willow Rock, chimed in with their warm praise for her clinical work, her notorious love of cheetah print, and the compassionate care she brings to work every day.

“I have literally been there watching you in conversation, standing back and been in awe, because you never let go of the heart of anything that was ever going on,” said one colleague. “You see the heart of the person. You might be distressed by a person's actions, but you wouldn't let go of their heart.”

Telecare Receives Three-Year CARF Accreditation

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For the past year, Telecare's programs and Quality Department have been hard at work preparing for an intensive survey by CARF International, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the quality of health and human services at hospitals and rehabilitation facilities worldwide. After a week of on-site visits from CARF surveyors in August, we were pleased to learn CARF awarded Telecare a three-year accreditation status.

In 1998, Telecare chose CARF to accredit its Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and residential programs because the CARF standards focused on person-centered practices, a strong match to Telecare's values and philosophy of recovery-centered services. Now, Telecare has over 75 CARF-accredited programs in eight program types and three special populations (Justice Involved, Older Adults, and Children and Adolescents). Additionally, Telecare has three hospitals that are Joint Commission accredited.

The survey preparation is a unifying and engaging process, where direct-care staff and leaders come together to review and confirm their conformance to standards and prepare to demonstrate unique best practices to CARF surveyors.

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“If this is a program's or leader’s first time going through CARF, we’re going to take a more hands-on approach to help them get ready,” said Tara Booth, Clinical Quality Manager at Telecare. “We meet with their leadership, pair them with other leaders at programs similar to their own, and host mock surveys to help them figure out what to focus on and what the process with the surveyors will be like.”

Telecare utilizes CARF and Joint Commission standards as a foundation for policy and adherence to high quality practices at our programs. We maintain conformance to these standards continuously, and prepare for the surveys by readying materials and evidence to demonstrate our program's excellent quality, best practices, and its high-involvement and recovery-centered cultures.

This year, CARF released a more detailed report on strengths and areas for improvement, recognizing Telecare’s organizational practices, our leadership, and individual programs. Below are a few findings from the 2017 CARF Accreditation Report for Telecare Corporation.

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Prescribing Practices:

  • “Telecare provides outstanding integrated healthcare and psychopharmacology guidelines that ensure safe treatment using state-of-the-art prescribing practices.”
  • “Telecare’s leadership, physicians, and nurse practitioners provide medication management, education, and holistic treatment modalities that support psychiatric stabilization, recovery, resiliency, and overall emotional wellness.”

Whole Person Care Curriculum:

  • "Introducing its Whole Person Care and Wellness curriculum, Telecare is committed to developing an integrated primary care and behavioral health model."

Client Satisfaction:

  • While surveying some of our Northern California programs (SOAR in Sacramento, Jeremy House in Stockton, and TRAC in Modesto), CARF noted “the persons served interviewed reported considerable satisfaction with the services offered…One member stated that Telecare is like ‘an oasis from a life of difficulties and obstacles.’ Another member stated that 'the program literally saved [his] life.'"

CARF accreditation reports also come with a set of recommendations for quality improvement in providers. Telecare's Quality Team has put together an improvement plan to address these recommendations. As CARF noted, "Telecare is open to feedback, new information, and training to improve its services. The organization is solution-focused and willing to make changes to improve the quality of care provided. It is committed to the CARF standards and to the accreditation process.”

Telecare continues to utilize CARF standards and its Clinical Quality Standardization Committees to drive consistency in best practices and conformance to CARF standards.

 

Fires in California: How To Help

As you may know, California is experiencing a devastating wave of wildfires that are continuing
day by day. From the northern Bay Area to the Santa Cruz mountains, to the hills and mountainsaround Los Angeles, wildfires are consuming hundreds of thousands of acres of natural areas as well as homes and businesses. The scope of the losses is staggering: thousands of structures have been destroyed, lives have been lost, communities have been completely consumed by the flames.

As a mental health provider with program locations in these areas, we are acutely and sorrowfully aware of how our employees, the people we serve, and these communities are being affected by the fires. We are making a donation to the Red Cross on behalf of everyone at Telecare Corporation to help with general disaster relief.

How You Can Help:

Donate Money: 
American Red Cross
Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund
Redwood Credit Union

Donate Time: American Red Cross/Other Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers of all kinds are encouraged to register with the Red Cross.  Licensed clinical mental health workers are needed to provide support in the communities affected. 
To find out how to help, call: 707- 577-7600 or go to https://tinyurl.com/yawtps5e to sign up to volunteer.  

You can also contact Ricardo Martinez, DGS Chief Procurement Officer, at 916-317-6451 or ricardo.martinez@dgs.ca.gov 

Alameda County licensed clinicians are encouraged to volunteer as well: for more information on how to volunteer with the County efforts, please contact Todd.stephenson@acgov.org.

More Resources:
Sonoma County Community Information Page
County Mental Health Services (for all of California)

Stanislaus County Effective Partnership Committee Provided the Effective Partnership Annual Recognition Award to the Initial Outreach & Engagement Center

On August 1, 2017, the Outreach and Engagement Center opened at 825 12th Street in Modesto. The center is made possible through a collaboration between Telecare’s TRAC/TMRS/SHOP Outreach Program along with county programs and other agencies in Stanislaus County.

Partners for this center include Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Telecare, Community Services Agency, Stanislaus County Superior Court, Memorial Medical Center and Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, Credit Bureau Advisors and the Stanislaus County Chief Executive Office. The Effective Partnership Annual Recognition Award was awarded to all agencies that are collaborating together. It is the first time we have won this award, and it means that we are all making positive changes within the Stanislaus community.

This collaboration has allowed the community to begin to bring services together for improved effectiveness. The Outreach team seek people out in the community in a strategic and coordinated effort with other partner outreach teams who are now co-located.

The Outreach and Engagement Center will also serve as a physical entry point providing access and referrals to a wide-range of homelessness services.

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STEPS Orange County’s Vision Boards

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This month, 17 members from our STEPS Orange County attended a Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS) group where they created "vision boards." The activity was based on the RCCS conversation worksheet they received on "Awakening Hope."

The RCCS has five conversation areas that staff can utilize to engage with clients.

We believe that hopes and dreams fuel an individual's recovery journey. Our role is to partner with clients and have conversations that "awaken" and grow one's belief in a meaningful future and the believe in that possibility. 

The boards were made with the hope of inspiring members to focus on the goals they would like to achieve, and visualize the hopes and dreams for they have for themselves. 

Transforming Everyday Household Products Into Hygiene Kits and More

When Lindy Cain sees baking soda and vinegar, she doesn't just see an elementary science project in the making; Lindy sees an opportunity to teach the members of Telecare's Sierra Vista ACT how to make a variety of household products in her DIY group hosted at the program every week.

Lindy Cain, Team lead at Telecare's Sierra Vista Act, makes bug repellant from household items at her diy group session.

Lindy Cain, Team lead at Telecare's Sierra Vista Act, makes bug repellant from household items at her diy group session.

"I taught our group how to clean their entire house with baking soda and vinegar," said Lindy. "I mostly focus on household and hygiene products. We do laundry soap every couple of months, we do dish soap, we've made dandruff shampoo, we make face lotion, face wash, face scrub, chap stick."

The DIY products are easy to make and use low-cost ingredients, most of which can be bought with food stamps or EBT funds.

"Many of the members don't have much money, and the money they do have, they need it for other things. I try to make things that our members don't normally have and can help them out in the community," said Lindy.

One of the members was having trouble walking on the weekly mile-long hikes they would take as part of a health and wellness curriculum at the program. The member's heels were scaly and cracked, which made it painful to walk long distances. He tried using a salve the doctor prescribed, but it didn’t work. Lindy looked up how to make foot salves and found a recipe for one that included magnesium.

“We melted magnesium flakes into water with oregano oil, beeswax, and water to make a lotion," said Lindy. "He started using it and his feet cleared up, which remedies had never done before. Now he can go on walks and exercise and his feet feel good."

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"Lindy goes above and beyond in her creative ways to engage and activate the members to live the lives of their choice," said Jennifer Hinkel, Vice President of Development at Telecare. "I participated in a DIY session where members were making a bug repellant lotion out of beeswax, coconut oil, baking soda, lemongrass, and lavender. Since many of our members walk or spend time outside, they really appreciated the session and the product that they could take and use that day."

For ideas and recipes, Lindy says she looks mostly on Pinterest, Wellness Mama, or Mountain Rose Herbs. Members also come to her and pitch ideas to replicate items they like to see if they can make them in the DIY group.

"It's skill-building and it’s also socializing with other members and myself, while they are learning about things in the environment. They enjoy learning about the different oils and the different properties and what they are used for," said Lindy.

Setting up a DIY group is easy, said Lindy. If you're interested in trying one at your program, Lindy provided some helpful tips for getting started.

How to Start a DIY Group

  • Buy ingredients in bulk. Lindy uses Amazon and Sam’s Club to purchase larger items at a lower cost.
  • Don't think too hard about containers. For dish soap, Lindy uses water bottles. For laundry soap, you can use plastic bags. You can also use portion cups, like for condiments, which you can buy in bulk at Sam's Club.
  • Just do some research and don’t be afraid of it — it's really easy.
Products the DIY group make include lavender, coconut and honey soap, lotions, face scrubs and much more!

Products the DIY group make include lavender, coconut and honey soap, lotions, face scrubs and much more!

Finding Hopes and Dreams in Ink and Needles

There’s a reason friends and family warn us not to get tattoos — they're permanent. If you change your mind, removing the ink is long, costly, and painful (like running sandpaper across an open wound).

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In some instances, tattoos are permanent labels of a past no longer serving a person, especially when someone is trying to move forward in a journey of recovery. Our Recovery Center at Woodburn in Oregon recently heard from a resident who wanted to cover a tattoo he got in prison that aligned him with a white supremacist group.

"It was very clear that he got the swastikas because he feared for his safety," said Kimberley Smith Daly, Team Lead at the Recovery Center. "It was a particular source of shame for him. It’s not what he believed…he did it because he felt he needed to protect himself."

Kimberley called her friend, Justin Heath, a mobile tattoo artist who works with several substance use treatment providers as well as private clients, and transforms old tattoos into new works of art at a reduced rate.

"He has a lot of clients, but this is something he does to give back to the community," said Kimberley. "The tattoos he's doing today that the guys are paying for, he's hardly charging them anything at all because he wants them to have the pride and the value of purchasing their own tattoo, but he knows they aren't always affordable."

After many hours sitting in a chair, the swastika tattoo transformed into a butterfly. Another gentleman at the Recovery Center at Woodburn had a tattoo of an offensive phrase on the back of his neck turned into a soaring eagle. Two symbols of hate changed into symbols of hope and strength.

"We want to get people to where their hopes and dreams are," said Kimberley. "There are companies that will help get people’s gang tattoos removed, but these guys liked the idea of artwork and liked the idea of having it become something beautiful and something they could be proud of, rather than just trying to erase it."

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"Kim's actions will profoundly impact these two men's lives for the better for the rest of their lives," said Jim Sechrist, Telecare’s Regional Director of Operations in Oregon.

Since having their tattoos covered, both residents have made ardent strides in their recovery. 

“He has been so bright and cheery, and more outgoing, and having conversations with people, initiating more conversations with people,” said Kimberley about the man whose tattoo transformed into an eagle. “It’s the shift in self-esteem that is so key to moving forward in recovery.”

Telecare Opposes Graham-Cassidy Repeal Bill

As you may have heard, the latest effort to repeal the ACA is currently very close to being voted on. Telecare opposes this bill, as it would eliminate expanded Medicaid funding for so many of the people we serve, sabotaging state initiatives to address the overdose crisis and fight substance use disorders. Cutting or capping Medicaid and ending the Medicaid expansion will be devastating to those who can’t afford health care in the private market. It would allow states to eliminate requirements that private insurance cover substance use disorders and mental illness. It would also allow them to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing illnesses. This bill would disproportionally affect the people we serve in so many ways.

Telecare is sending letters to Senators in the states we serve. If you feel moved to do so, please contact your senator right away. Please call your Senator urging them to vote NO on the bill. You can call 888-852-0653, which allows you to contact your member of Congress.

The National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors also offers these facts for crafting your own message. 

FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LATEST GOP HEALTH CARE REPEAL (GRAHAM-CASSIDY)

1.     MASSIVE STATE BY STATE FUNDING CUTS. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report showing in 2027, every state in the nation would see federal funding cuts under Graham-Cassidy, totaling nearly $300 billion.

2.             NO FULL CBO SCORE. The Congressional Budget Office announced it would not be able to produce a complete analysis on Graham-Cassidy that includes the impact on deficits, how many will lose coverage or the increase in premiums by September 30.  Senator Bill Cassidy admitted “I just don’t care about the coverage numbers.”

3.             PRE-EXISTING CONDITION PREMIUM HIKES. The Center for American Progress released a report showing how much more people with pre-existing conditions would pay each year under Graham-Cassidy. For example, an individual with asthma would face a premium surcharge of $4,340. The surcharge for pregnancy would be $17,320 and $142,650 more for patients with metastatic cancer.

4.             WORSE THAN BEFORE. Fitch Rating Agency found that this bill was “more disruptive for most states than prior Republican efforts.” The Washington Post found this bill is worse than previous health care repeal bills, writing “"The latest Obamacare overhaul bill gaining steam on Capitol Hill slashes health-care spending more deeply and would likely cover fewer people than a July bill that failed precisely because of such concerns."

5.             MORE UNINSURED VETS. Rand Corp study showing Republican repeal efforts would increase the number of uninsured veterans. The report showed that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion had increased coverage for low-income veterans who lived further from VA facilities. The report found that the ACA was responsible for reducing the uninsured rate of veterans by about one-third, from 9.1% to 5.8%, in 2015.

6.             MORE UNINSURED CHILDREN. The Center for American Progress released an analysis showing that children are at immediate risk of losing coverage in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah with CHIP funding running out quickly.

7.             KEY STAKEHOLDERS OPPOSE. The AARP, AMA, six leading physician groups, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and 15 more high-profile patient groups and Children’s Hospital Association are all unified in opposing the Republican repeal bill.

8.             GOP GOVERNORS OPPOSE. Republican Governors from Alaska, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have come out against the plan.

9.             FAILS THE MCCAIN TEST. The NYT's David Leonhardt's column, "John McCain Faces a New Test of His Principles."

10.          RAND PAUL IS A 'NO.' GOP Senator Rand Paul opposes Graham-Cassidy, writing in an op-ed, “In all ways, this bill is also ObamaCare Lite. In no way is it repeal the way we promised. I will oppose this bill as I did the other fake repeal bills, and I urge those who want repeal to do so, as well.“

11.          INCLUDES THE AGE TAX. This repeal bill still lets insurance companies charge up to 5 times more for people over 50, what AARP has dubbed an “Age Tax”.

12.          NO GUARANTEE IN THE HOUSE. Because this repeal bill is worse than previous ones, the Washington Post reports "Would the House pass Graham-Cassidy? It's not a slam dunk."

 

Clark County E&T’s Quote Board

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Staff at the Clark County Evaluation & Treatment (E&T) center in Vancouver, WA, spent the last month or so writing their favorite quotes on a bulletin board in the program designed by one of their team members in Social Services, Shawn Wolf.

Shawn’s inspiration for the bulletin board was the Disney movie UP. Staff members were invited to add their own favorite quotes to the balloons to encourage, inspire, and to make others laugh. (”Why are iPhone chargers not called apple juice?”)

“UP is about enjoying life every day,” said Shawn. “Life’s not only about the big monumental moments. It is equally important to say YES to the small miracles that surround you.”