Meeting Notes: Bridge Coalition Meeting on June 25th

Opening Comments (Jim): 

  • Chat Introductions were done,
  • Focusing on return to community: safe housing, relationships, and supporting young adults facing unaccompanied homelessness interests and passions,
  • A quick comment on Jim’s appreciation and excitement for the collective efforts of the group, noting that we are closer than ever to ensuring young people have access to the Bridge Housing Programs.

The Bridge Scope and Vision (Vy): 

  • High rate of return to homelessness for young people exiting inpatient care,
  • Cross-system information sharing and training,
  • Developing Return To Community Plan,
  • Developing opportunities for systems reform.

The Bridge Return to Community Housing Survey:  The survey conducted via a Zoom poll by Sarah Spier provided valuable insights into the barriers to treatment, importance of a clean and sober environment, reasons for early exit, beneficial services, and essential elements for a successful return to the community plan. The demographic information highlighted the diverse backgrounds of the respondents, ensuring a comprehensive perspective on the issues discussed. This feedback will be instrumental in the design and implementation of the Bridge Return to Community Housing programs, helping to create supportive and effective solutions tailored to the needs of unaccompanied young adults experiencing homelessness.

  1. Personal Experience: Barriers to Treatment

Overview: The survey sought to identify specific challenges faced by individuals when seeking and completing treatment for behavioral health conditions. Understanding these barriers helps identify gaps in the current behavioral health system.

Questions: a. What were the biggest challenges you or someone you know faced when seeking treatment for a behavioral health condition?
b. What challenges did you or someone you know experience after completing treatment?

Key Trends:

  • Access and Navigation: Many respondents highlighted difficulties with insurance coverage. They noted challenges in navigating small and sometimes outdated networks, and the lack of available options in Behavioral Health Agencies (BHAs) or via telehealth.
  • Continuity of Care: A significant barrier post-treatment is the lack of appropriate step-down services and a continuum of care. Respondents also mentioned the absence of housing support.
  • Provider Competence: Some reported incompetent providers, especially those not offering trauma-informed care, which sometimes led to re-traumatization.
  • Awareness and Resources: Many found it difficult to know what services are available, how to access them, and the process involved. There was a noted distrust in the behavioral health system due to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment plans.

Sample Responses:

  • “Navigating insurance and finding a suitable provider is a major challenge.”
  • “There is a critical need for step-down services and stable housing post-treatment.”
  • “Providers often lack trauma-informed approaches, leading to re-traumatization.”
  1. Clean & Sober Environment & Terminology

Overview: This section aimed to gauge the importance of maintaining a clean and sober environment post-inpatient treatment and gather opinions on the terminology used.

Questions: a. Do you agree that maintaining a clean and sober environment for three months post-inpatient treatment is important for successful recovery?

*The statement above is rated on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means you ‘Strongly Disagree’ and 10 means you ‘Strongly Agree’, with intermediate numbers representing varying levels of agreement or disagreement.*

  • 22% rated 6
  • 11% rated 7
  • 11% rated 8
  • 11% rated 9
  • 44% rated 10
  1. Do you use the terminology Clean and/or Sober?
  • 22% said No
  • 78% said Yes
  1. Do you have other name suggestions besides Clean and/or Sober?
  • Responses included: “sober works,” “living in sobriety,” “drug and alcohol-free,” “recovery-focused,” “in active recovery.”

Key Trends:

  • Agreement on Clean and Sober Environment: The majority agreed on the importance of maintaining a clean and sober environment for successful recovery.
  • Terminology: Most respondents use the terms “clean” and/or “sober,” but suggestions for less judgmental terms were provided, and the need for intention behind the use of terminology was deemed more important.

Sample Responses:

  • “Sober works better than clean; terms like ‘recovery-focused’ have less judgment attached.”
  • “The actual terms are less important than a mutual understanding of their meaning.”
  1. Reasons for Early Exits

Overview: The survey explored perspectives on early exit policies, aiming to balance accountability with compassion in the Bridge Housing programs.

Questions: a. Do you think an individual should be exited from the program if they relapse while in the Bridge Housing program?

*The statement above is rated on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means you ‘Strongly Disagree’ and 10 means you ‘Strongly Agree’, with intermediate numbers representing varying levels of agreement or disagreement.*

  • 33% said 0
  • 22% said 2
  • 11% said 3
  • 33% said 5
  1. What are the top 3 reasons and or behaviors you believe an individual should exit the program early?
  • Responses included: inappropriate behavior, not respecting boundaries, refusal of treatment, obstruction of treatment for others, bringing drugs into the housing.

Key Trends:

  • Relapse Policy: Opinions varied, but a clear trend was that the majority opposed individuals being exited for relapse on its own, many mentioned that relapse can be a part of recovery.
  • Top Reasons for Early Exit: Inappropriate behavior, substance distribution, and refusal to follow program guidelines were common reasons.

Sample Responses:

  • “Relapse should not be a sole reason for exit; support should continue.”
  • “Engaging in harmful behaviors to others or refusing to follow programming could be reasons for early exit.”
  1. Beneficial Services in Housing Programs

Overview: To ensure the Bridge Housing program meets the diverse needs of young adults, the survey asked for feedback on additional services that should be included.

Question:

  • Please review the list of services and let us know if there are any additional services you believe are important but not included:
    • Peer Support
    • Behavioral Health Support
    • Medication-Assisted Treatment
    • Housing Support
    • Flexible Funding Opportunities

Key Trends:

  • Respondents suggested additional services like resource navigator support, employment support, self-advocacy support, enrichment activities, and optional community-building activities.

Sample Responses:

  • “Employment support and resource navigation are crucial.”
  • “Optional activities to build community and friendships among participants.”
  1. Return to Community Plan

Overview: This section aimed to gather input on critical elements for a successful return to the community plan for individuals transitioning from inpatient care.

Question:

  • What do you believe are the most important areas to include in a successful return to community plan, and what specific services, resources, or support systems do you think are crucial for a successful transition back to the community?

Key Trends:

  • Housing and Basic Needs: Ensuring stable housing and meeting basic needs were seen as fundamental.
  • Support Structures: Emphasis on peer support, continuous behavioral health counseling, and connection to healthcare providers.
  • Life Skills and Community Integration: Practical life skills training and connections to community groups were deemed important.

Sample Responses:

  • “Stable housing and life skills training are essential for a smooth transition.”
  • “Consistent behavioral health support and practical resources are crucial.”
  1. Demographic Information

Overview: The demographic section collected information on the respondents’ age, lived experience, and professional background.

Results:

  • Age Groups:
    • 11% aged 50-65
    • 22% aged 35-50
    • 44% aged 26-35
    • 22% aged 18-26
  • Lived Experience: Many of the individuals survey identified as more than one of the options given.
    • 75% had lived behavioral health experience,
    • 50% were professionals in the field,
    • 63% had family and friends with relevant experiences,
    • 50% were interested in the topic.

RFP HCA Updates & Timeline: Rachel Baxter, Behavioral Health TAY Stable Housing Policy Lead, provided a brief update on the RFP process and timeline for the Bridge Housing programs. The Health Care Authority expects to release the RFP for procurement by September. The selection of two providers—one located on the Eastern side of the state and one on the Western side—is anticipated by December. Funding will begin in January 2025, allowing the two houses to operate and start their programs.

Community Updates: 

  • No community updates, but Jim thanked the NorthStar Advocates team for all their work and dedication.

Closing Comments:  

  • Sarah and Jim thanked everyone for their support and participation in this work.
Sarah Spier
Author: Sarah Spier