National Career Nurse Assistants’ Day: Celebrating Direct Support Staff

National Career Nurse Assistants’ Day: Celebrating Direct Support Staff

You probably didn’t know it, but June 13th is National Career Nurse Assistants’ Day! This is a day designed to commend nursing assistants and applaud all of the wonderful things they do. This day also marks the kickoff to an entire week, known as National Nursing Assistant’s Week.

Sponsored by the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, Career Nurse Assistants’ Day, in a more general sense, celebrates direct support staff and the work that they do.

While Alvis does not currentlyemploy nursing assistants, we are grateful for our plethora of direct support staff who assist clients with their daily and long-term needs. These positions include our direct support professionals, cognitive behavioral specialists, nurses and physicians at our behavioral healthcare sites, and counselors. Some of these positions also give the on-site care similar to nursing assistants, as they display daily the invaluable readiness and attentiveness that our clients need to succeed during their life-changing journeys.

Alvis offers behavioral healthcare services that specifically serve clients with behavioral healthcare needs, such as Amethyst and Recovery Choices. Additionally, community reentry programs offer on-site staff that target behavioral health concerns, along with the professional physicians, counselors, and DSPs supporting clients with developmental disabilities.

There are current openings for some of the previously mentioned direct service positions, and Alvis is actively searching for passionate caregiving professionals seeking out life-changing work.

The end goal throughout all of our programs is to make a #180DegreeImpact, inspiring clients to live courageously, so they find the tools necessary to change their story. This would not be possible without our gifted clinical staff.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Call Your Doctor Day

The second Tuesday of each June serves less as a celebratory national day than as a reminder to women all across the country to do one simple task—call their doctor—so they can schedule their well-woman exam. Women are encouraged to schedule a well-woman exam once a year, so their physicians can be on the lookout for any preventative illnesses.

While some may deem it unnecessary to have “National Call Your Doctor Day” for what seems to be a simple task, Bright Pink, a women’s health non-profit, founded this day in 2016 because, statistically-speaking, this reminder is entirely necessary. According to a study published by Health Affairs, in 2016,only 8% of U.S. adults aged 35 and older received all of the high-priority preventative services recommended to them. A ZocDoc survey found that this number is even higher in millennials. Beginning at age 21 and onwards, for women in particular, Planned Parenthood recommends regular pelvic exams, Pap tests, and breast examinations—all of which are included in a well-woman exam.

In our fast-paced, busy lives, work, family, social outings, and most other things take precedence over doctor visits unless we are actually feeling physically ill. It can be easy for routine check-ups to fall to the wayside and become shoved to the back of our minds and the bottom of our to-do lists.

While most of us don’t like being forcedto do anything, National Call Your Doctor Day is designed to help women to put their health first and prioritize future wellness—literally, by creating a scheduled time on the calendar. Women should treat this call like an appointment with a valuable customer. “Observing” this day simply requires setting aside a few minutes to call the doctor, or, alternately, to schedule a visit online.

Alvis values all of the women who are participating in our programs and prioritizes their physical and mental health on a daily basis. Our highly-skilled and caring physicians and counselors are trained to respond to each woman’s needs, so that they, too, may not only combat existing conditions, but prevent the emergence of future conditions. We join women across the world in this call to action to combat the preventative ailments that women face.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Children’s Day

Happy National Children’s Day! In celebration of children and their futures, this day takes place every second Sunday in June.

National Children’s Day was created by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1856 as a special day to baptize children, but it has recently evolved as a day to honor all children.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have become staples in American culture, and Children’s Day, which takes place in between both days, serves largely the same purpose. Children’s Day encourages us to take a step back, appreciate our families through a new lens, and realize what (or, rather, who) we are thankful for. For some, this might mean spending a little extra time with their children; for others, it may mean showing love for all of the children in their lives, and the potential and hope that they bring.

Not only is National Children’s Day a welcome means to express how much we value our youth, but it is also needed to spread awareness about the struggles that many children in our nation face. In fact, 3.6 million referrals involving 6.6 million children are made each year to child protection agencies, and a historically high 2.6 million children are homeless in the U.S.—that’s 1 in 30 children.

As a human services agency, employees at Alvis are touched by the challenges of the children and families we serve on a daily basis. One of Alvis’ behavioral healthcare programs, Amethyst, specifically targets needs of children whose mothers are in treatment for co-occurring mental health and addictions disorders at the Amethyst program. These children face their own challenges that are the result of living in uncertainty while their mothers were actively using. Staff at Amethyst offer comprehensive services to children, including counseling, academic support, trauma services, substance use prevention and more.  They are able to receive full access to the same opportunities (and more) that they would if they were living in the community instead of at the Amethyst program. The Amethyst program’s SummerQuest camp, which kicked off its 2019 camp on June 1st, is a prime example of how Amethyst and the mothers in treatment are brightened by the presence of children and it shows the program’s commitment to children’s wellbeing.

On the first Saturday of every month, Alvis has Donuts with Dad, which involves children and their fathers getting together for some fun (and donuts!). Alvis will also be hosting a Father’s Day Picnic at Westgate Park in Columbus to celebrate fathers and their families. Recently, our Mother’s Day celebration provided some heartwarming moments between children and their mothers, as they participated in crafts and went “shopping” for Mother’s Day presents.

Many Alvis clients across multiple types of programs are working hard to reconnect and strengthen relationships with their children.  Research and our experience have shown that children are a powerful source of motivation for clients who are working to turn their lives around and make a #180DegreeImpact for themselves and their loved ones all around them.

Across communities, the faces of children stand out as bringing hope to communities and inspiring all to work toward a better future. Alvis strives to create community in every facet of our programs. We provide tools to help clients to re-engage with their families, neighbors and communities.  While at Alvis, clients form their own communities that encourage growth and focus on each client’s potential rather than on their past. The supportive community we form with our clients helps them on their 180 degree journey to return to their families and communities full of hope and promise rather than addiction and despair.

Our children are vital in forming loving, positive communities. At Alvis, we see children as instrumental in our programs and our commitment is extended to them, whether it is through our services for Families and Children or in the services that are dedicated to directly addressing the needs of the children. We warmly celebrate #NationalChildrensDay, and remain aware and grateful for the children who can look forward to a better future because they have been impacted by programs at Alvis!

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Smile Day

You’re never fully dressed without a smile! At the end of this month, on May 31st, join Alvis in celebrating National Smile Day.

As National Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it is worth considering the positive effects of smiling, and what smiling can do, both for us and the people around us. According to certain studies that have been done on the science of smiling, our smiles (even when forced) are able to reduce stress and increase levels of dopamine in the brain. We naturally smile when our brains are happy, and our brains are happy when we smile. Additionally, smiling is contagious! We’re inclined to mirror the expressions of our friends, illustrating how one smile can truly alter another person’s  entire frame of mind and brighten their day.

Apart from instant mood improvement, smiles actually improve the brain and reduce anxiety levels and blood pressure. Likewise, because smiles are contagious, there’s a likely chance that you’ll be able to make good impressions on other people while simultaneously making them feel good, whether it’s for a job interview, or a coffee date. In fact, the first thing that we notice upon meeting a new person is their smile!

Perhaps most importantly, though, smiling helps make the world a better place. National Smile Day was started by Dr. Tim Stirneman and Jim Wojdyla of Compassionate Dental Care just last year when they wanted to convey the power of a healthy smile to the world. National Smile Day is also the day before National Smile Month—a month dedicated to  spreading happiness and practicing good oral health care—so smiling is sure to continue well into the summer!

Many of Alvis’ clients and alumni  have undergone great struggles, trauma, and hardship. However, Alvis believes that each person’s potential is more important than their past. We strive every day to encourage our clients and their families to find reasons to smile and find joy wherever they are and in  what they imagine for their futures.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Integrated Behavioral Healthcare at Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

Addressing Mental Health Issues

Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program, is 34 years old, and a unique program in central Ohio. With its focus on integrated behavioral healthcare treatment, it is unlike many other treatment and recovery programs, because it focuses on both women and their children. Specifically, the Amethyst program allows children up to age 18 to live with their mothers while the mothers are in treatment. Recently acquired by Alvis in 2017, the Amethyst program shares the same “big picture” vision shared among all Alvis’ programs: it focuses on holistic treatment. 

“Our whole goal is always a lifetime of recovery,” says Heidi Hess, Clinical Director of the Amethyst program. Hess highlights that lots of work at Amethyst is “person-centered” and “trauma informed,” that involves “treating the whole person” through “mental, physical, spiritual, and occupational” means. Part of Hess’ job is reviewing data and best practices to ensure that the program’s curriculum and goals are backed by current research, as the program aims to provide clients with the tools for a lifetime of recovery. While the Amethyst program provides services specificly for children of mothers undergoing treatment, the women at Amethyst each follow highly individualized programs that address to each woman’s needs and solutions. 

One of the first things that a woman does upon her induction into the Amethyst program is meeting with an intake counselor and completing a series of assessments. A woman’s intake counselor will be her first counselor while at Amethyst. Once she is oriented with the program and its services, a typical day involves morning treatment groups centering on substance use disorders, and afternoon treatment groups to address mental health disorders. Specialty treatment groups also meet to address trauma and parenting. All clients are involved in treatment teams, which involves clinical professionals working with the client to talk about plans, goals, concerns, progress, and emerging needs. Treatment, as Hess describes, is “solution focused,” and teams concentrate on what they are doing to keep clients moving forward on the path to recovery. 

Mental Health Recovery 

The Amethyst program specifically treats co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders, and all clients are screened by Dr. Sara McIntosh to determine medical needs, including medication. Integrated behavioral health treatment and the use of psychiatric medication is much more advanced than it was 20-30 years ago, and aids to help treat the disease of addiction. According to Hess, approximately 90% of people who have an addiction also have a current mental health diagnosis. Mental health and addiction are, many times, related. The disease of addiction causes depressive syndrome, and often times, it begs the question of which came first. Either way, Hess stresses that addiction is a diagnosed mental health issue that is treatable. It’s brain chemistry. Medications can help clients stabilize the brain’s chemistry, so that recovery is attainable. 

Specifically at the Amethyst program, most clients do have mental health and addiction treatment needs. They all are involved in mental health treatment groups. In addition to the 

sessions addressing substance abuse in the morning and mental health in the afternoon, women are linked with other community mental health treatment agencies to address additional needs. Case managers assist clients with any needs for appointments or linkage to additional mental health services. Additionally, any type of Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or specialty services are provided so that children of clients receive all services they would if they were living in the community rather than at the Amethyst program. 

As individualized treatment plans change over the course of a client’s time at Amethyst, the treatment does not end after discharge. After being discharged, clients enter the “aftercare” phase of the program. During aftercare, clients meet with other recently discharged clients in peer groups, once a week, for 90 minutes. Aftercare continues for an entire year, and it offers support for dealing with the general challenges of life. Balancing work, school, children, and other potential stressors in early recovery can be extremely difficult. Hess cites research which finds that greater lengths of stays in treatment result in higher rates of successful long-term recovery. Keeping someone actively engaged in treatment significantly increases the likelihood of long-term, lifetime recovery. Following the completion of aftercare, graduates of the Amethyst program can choose to stay in treatment for up to two additional years. 

Challenging Stigmas 

Many times, people associate addiction with certain stigmas and some, despite all medical evidence to the contrary, do not see addiction as a disease. Hess finds that many aspects of people seeking treatment for addiction and/or mental health can be stigmatized. There are a range of negative stigmas in regards to addiction, mental health issues, poverty, and justice involvement. Alvis and its Amethyst program advocate against these stigmas through an evidence-based approach to integrated behavioral healthcare treatment. The Alvis vision is that communities believe each person’s potential is more important than their past. “What we know and believe is that addiction is a disease,” Hess says. “Mental health is a disease. When appropriately treated, people recover.” She compares recovery from addiction and mental illness to treatment and recovery from other chronic diseases, like blood pressure or diabetes. The disease may linger, but clients learn to use certain tools to live in society and remain in recovery, leading full and productive lives. Staff at Alvis’ Amethyst program work with clients to combat the stigmas revolving around addiction, mental illness, and people with past justice system involvement. In turn, clients are educated about the capacity for change and growth. The goal is holistic treatment. As Hess explains: “Yes, we treat the addiction, but we also provide basis for education and employability.” 

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Social Work Spotlight: Carolann Gregoire

Carolann Gregoire, CSCC Practicum Coordinator

To continue with our celebration of the social work profession this March, we sat down with Carolann Gregoire, Practicum Coordinator for the Social and Human Services Program at the Columbus State Community College. She has been working as a social worker for decades and has received both her Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Kansas, which is her home state. In order to learn more about her work, we did a Q&A session with Carolann! Read on and watch the video series to see what this industry veteran has to say about the ins and outs of her practice!

Trends

You place students in internships. What is the value of practicum?

I work with students before they go into practicum and also while they are in practicum. I would say that one of the biggest challenges that the students experience is not fully understanding what it means actually to work with a client face to face, within an agency structure. That is why we do practicums, because they can have a world of information that they receive in the classroom, which they need and they embrace intellectually, and even on a heart level; but it’s very different than when you are actually in the same room with a client who is sharing their story and looking to you for help. It’s a very humbling experience. If it’s your 1st time in trying to be helpful with a client it takes practice and takes confidence before you feel like that what you know intellectually is something you can translate into practice.

Top 3 Skills

What are the reasons most students select a career in Social Work?

I think Social Workers choose this field in part because of some personal experiences, and it’s important whatever that personal experience is that we have worked with it sufficiently so that we can use it, rather than it using us, and really interfering with the work that we do with clients. So there is a fine line when you feel like you are on the other side of the experience. For me, it was a couple of things that shaped how I looked at the world. Experiences in my life that I had to work with on a heart level before I could really be present with myself and be present for others.

What do you believe to be the Social Workers biggest challenges?

I think for a recent graduate, you need an understanding of how an agency operates and how that impacts what they can actually do with a client. Because when they are in the classroom, it is a lot of information that is very helpful but until you start experiencing it, you don’t fully understand all the different influences that impact what you going get to do with a client. I try to prepare new folks in the field for that thought of “maybe this is not exactly what I thought it was going to be”. There can be barriers to providing good care that come from stigma from society, from lack of funding, lack of resources and I don’t think you really know what that feels like and how it really does impact what you are doing with a client until you are doing it.

Alvis impact in the community

Alvis commends social workers for going above and beyond to help those in need, whether it be through direct support or through providing resources that find solutions to complex problems. Their dedication to bettering their community facilitates healthier relationships, lifestyles, and practices that may not have been a possibility without this aid. Make sure to stay tuned in to our social media and blog this month to see some great interviews with social work leaders in the community offering direct insight on the who’s and what’s of the profession!

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.