By Lynn Dorsky, Case Manager
Working in the Rutland Aftercare Program at Spring Lake Ranch is an empowering experience for both clients and staff. To give you an idea, let me start by describing the wonderfully rambling and unique space of the Washington Street Townhouse, where most of the Rutland staff are based, and where our clients spend a good deal of their time. On the outside, the Townhouse is a stately, historic building, previously owned by a renowned window builder – many ornate windows can be found in the house to this day. Inside, the house has retained its historical charm, but also reflects the Ranch’s unique character.
The Townhouse is surrounded by beautiful gardens that are manicured through the care of our clients in the maintenance program. As you step out of the lawn and into the basement entryway, a calming Zen garden welcomes you. The Zelda room is the first space you enter, and features a mural painted by our maintenance program. It’s filled with art supplies, couches, books, and a CD player for the community to use together during their recreational time. The yellow room follows, which is a cozy place for gathering and filled with more murals that both staff and clients have created. Past that, the hallway to the Case Manager office is lined with bulletin boards containing job information, upcoming events in the community, support groups, articles, maintenance information, and safety info, as well as paintings our clients have created. The journey through these rooms help clients and staff transition into work mode. The same is true as they make the reverse trip to exit the space, with the reminder to hold the peaceful Zen feeling as they enter the world.
Thinking through the flow of the day, early mornings are my favorite time. Clients stop in for coffee and to greet their Case Managers. Case Managers get clients their medication for the day, or even the week, depending on their level of care. Communication with our other Rutland location at Royce Street occurs, and the staff arrange to take clients up to Cuttingsville for Work Crew, which they still participate in on a regular basis when they live in Rutland.
As the day progresses, emails come flooding in, and cell phones are constantly in use coordinating care for clients. Wilcox Pharmacy is frequented for med pick-ups each day throughout the week. Case Managers coordinate with the nurse and update med sheets, and filing and updating of weekly goals and progress notes are worked on. Tasks can be as simple as assisting clients in finding phone numbers or as detailed as coordination of medical care and, in extreme cases, hours spent re-grouping at the hospital psych unit. Collaboration with therapists, doctors, family, and the entire team in town is a crucial aspect of forward progress.
For clients living in independent apartments, Case Managers visit them in their home for review meetings. Each client has very individualized needs and we work hard to discover those needs together as a collaborative process. It is simultaneously exciting and challenging to see how they have progressed with their hourly, daily, or weekly goals. Some clients require more assistance with daily living skills such as cleaning, budgeting, grocery lists, and finding ways to spend their free time. Some struggle with finding meaningful work in the community, or even the ability to take that first action step to apply for a position. Case Managers assist clients by empowering them through a strength-based perspective and a client-centered approach to build confidence in forward movement. We refer some clients to vocational rehabilitation services, and others to Diane, our in-house employment specialist. Other clients in independent apartment living require short check-ins and need very little support from the program other than regular face-to-face time with their Case Manager.
The Rutland Aftercare Program offers flexibility and the ability for clients to take risks in a safe environment with support and guidance as they explore what has worked in the past and learn to change behavior patterns for the future. We allow clients to move at their own pace through a continuum of care that offers a range of options. Whether at our Royce Street transition house, in an individual apartment at the Townhouse, or in an independent apartment in the town of Rutland, residents who transition into our Rutland Aftercare Program can flex their wings in an open but supported environment.