One of the fallacies of secure residential care is that patients have no rights. That they are ‘locked up’ and force-fed a punishing regimen of scheduled activities and medication and put in restraints if they fail to comply. ‘That’s simply wrong, and it’s not the way things are done here. Every patient and family receives a handbook with patient rights and responsibilities,’ said April Turner the quality improvement manager and client rights officer, ‘In fact community mental health agencies certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health ODMH (as Pomegranate is) entitles patients/residents to 23 specific rights and our treatment focus comes from a Trauma Informed Care model. These rights are spelled out on pages 21 and 22 of the patient handbook and include right to refuse treatment, un-necessary or excessive medications, freedom from restraint and right to confidentiality of communications.’
The handbook states:
- We believe you should be treated with respect and treat others with respect.
- We believe we should not hurt one another.
- We believe that everyone should try to help each other as best they can.
- We will work to resolve our problems to help each other succeed in life.
- We believe everyone who comes here has the inner strength to help them through tough times in their lives.
- We believe everyone is able to take advantage of opportunities to grow physically, socially, and emotionally while here at Pomegranate.
- We welcome your thoughts on ways to improve your treatment here.
- We welcome family and support people that may aid in your ability to grow.
- We respect each other’s confidentiality.
At Pomegranate, that’s no idle boast, according to Turner. If a teen has an issue with a policy or person, Turner interviews each youth and resolves any disagreement promptly. Agencies have 20 working days from when a complaint is filed to respond in writing.
A teen used to a ‘no rules/anything goes’ environment may not be thrilled with any schedule or authority figure. To that end, Pomegranate holds continuous team training programs through the Crisis Prevention Intervention institute to teach a very specific skill set to its CPST’s, team leaders and therapists to aid in de-escalation, and implements a pre-cautionary response with a sequence for calming down.
‘Our strength based approach, to reinforce good behavior and talk through issues or take ‘time-outs’ offers a behavioral support plan many could benefit from,’ says Turner. ‘In the end, we make a difference in the future of each child.’
Along with safety precautions are dress code standards along with items not permitted at Pomegranate. This includes metal jewelry, belts, shoe strings, bras with wires, alcohol, street drugs, weapons, cameras, matches, lighters, cigarettes, toxic model glue, video recorders, threatening paraphernalia and chewing gum- all of which might be used to self harm or harm others. Revealing clothing or clothing with threatening or suggestive clothing are also not permitted. This dress code is similar to many Ohio school systems.
‘There are scheduled activities and visiting hours for a reason- patient safety and therapy, education and healing. That includes individual and group therapy, recreation, a nutritious diet, art therapy and structured outings. Teens are not always noted for eating healthy, keeping regular bedtimes, staying off bad internet sites, making wise choices in friendships and life, wearing appropriate clothing, and not all come from a stable, healthy 2-parent home environment,’ Turner noted. ‘In spite of our structure, we receive thank- you letters from our youth for the care they received, the learning that took place, and the skills they learned.’
[Photo credit: April Turner, QR/Compliance Manager, Pomegranate Health Systems] [Pomegranate’s new QI manager since article publication is RayShawn Wilson, as April has moved out of state]