UBCSS Now Offers In-Home Services
New Program Offers Mental Health Services in Clients’ Homes
By Jerry Dorsman
Upper Bay Counseling and Support Services, Inc. now provides individual and family therapy in the homes of their clients. According to Robert Wilson, PsyD, Division Director, this is an important “next step” in healthcare.
“Providing mental health counseling in the home makes sense,” he said. “We started this new service as a pilot program last fall and it proved to be exactly what was needed by many of our clients. So we now offer it as a standard service.”
“For example,” Wilson added, “ this service can help people with mental health diagnoses who are physically disabled or individuals who are so anxious or panicked that they feel uncomfortable leaving their homes. This service can even be used if transportation is an issue for our clients or just if a client has a preference to be seen in his or her home environment.”
To qualify for mental health home visits, a person would need to have a mental health diagnosis and Medicaid Health Insurance. Soon, these services should be covered by Medicare as well.
Shannon Sitter, LCPC, is an In-Home Therapist for Upper Bay Counseling. She’s one of the frontline staff for this program providing in-home therapy on a full-time basis. To meet all the clients’ needs, there are a few other therapists providing the in-home services on a part-time basis as well.
According to Sitter, “People who need mental health services the most tend to be the ones who have the most difficulty making it to office visits. I think doing therapy in the home is simply a more relaxed setting for many people and this facilitates the therapy process. Also when family therapy is needed, it can be easier for everyone if it is in the home.”
In addition, Sitter reports that this service proves invaluable for homeless clients. She has provided therapy for them in temporary motel rooms or in local eating establishments. This presents a challenge to privacy that is crucial to counseling services, but Sitter has been creative in assuring privacy in the community settings that she uses.
When providing in-home services, therapists can take their computers to each visit and can access client records as needed. All of the information on these computers is encrypted so they’re safe to carry out of the office. Even important documents can be signed by the client through the use of an electronic signature pad. So everything that’s normally done at the office can be done in the home setting.
Not all mental health services can be provided in clients’ residences however. For example clients still need to go to the office for medication reviews and evaluations, and to obtain their prescriptions. In-Home Therapists can make the referrals for medications as needed and can help set up appointments.
The In-Home Therapists also make referals for clients to other services in the community that may assist them such as Mental Health Case Management or the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP).
“The healthcare environment keeps changing,” notes Dr. Rich Bayer, CEO of Upper Bay Counseling. “As the Affordable Care Act phases in, more people have health insurance. Also there’s an increased recognition that mental health is an important component of overall health so more and more people are accessing mental health to meet their healthcare needs.”
“Upper Bay receives approximately 1800 calls each month,” he adds. “Of course, not everyone who calls needs mental health treatment. They may need another resource, such as addictions treatment, or services for a developmental disability, so we help those individuals to find the right resource for what they need. But most who call need a mental health appointment. That’s why we started the ‘Open Access’ model, meaning that someone can come in and be seen the same day that they call, as long as they call before noon.
“The way healthcare is changing, Open Access really helps. It makes things so much easier for our clients. But many can’t make it to one of our offices, so the in-home services can be just what they need.”
The In-Home Services are available through Upper Bay Counseling in both Cecil and Harford Counties. To learn more about this service, call us at 410-996-3450 or see more on our website (www.upperbay.org).
(Published June 26, 2015.)
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