Friday, March 4, 2011

Nested Services Help Patients Stay Healthy

Many Delawareans with severe substance abuse and mental health issues are achieving recovery and stability thanks to Safety Net Services, Brandywine’s multifaceted treatment, pre-treatment, and HIV/AIDS program.

Safety Net connects clients to substance abuse treatment and other appropriate services, depending on their readiness to enter treatment, while providing a safety net before, during and after treatment engagement. A key to the program’s success is the nesting of medical care, Medication Management, risk reduction interventions, and HIV testing within a substance abuse treatment program. The nested services make appointment scheduling, transportation and other practical issues much easier for patients, particularly those struggling with mental health and/or physical issues. It also increases patient comfort and safety, and strengthens confidentiality. The result is improved patient health, stability and general well-being.

Since it began in 2007, Safety Net has served 244 clients, of which 217 are still active in the program. This past year, 27 successfully completed the program and graduated, and 78 new clients entered the program. Safety Net also works with the BCCS outreach team to identify and engage at-risk or HIV-positive substance abusers in the community.

The typical Safety Net client is facing multiple treatment issues. They struggle with addiction, mental health, and medical issues. Routinely, they have financial challenges. They get help with basic survival needs like food and clothing, which is a crucial first step before considering and engaging in substance abuse treatment. Help is also provided with transportation, child care, medical care and housing.

Safety Net clients have, on average, four medical problems each, and take an average of two medications. Most (90%) are HIV positive, and two-thirds also have mental health diagnoses such as depression or bipolar. Medication Management helps them stay on top of their complex health care needs. An average of 21 participants utilize this service each month, and all are compliant with their medications.

Clients learn to reduce their HIV risk through education and behavior change. Over half (53%) have stopped injecting drugs since entering the program. 33% have stopped sharing needles. 77% have reduced their number of sex partners, and 90% have increased condom use since entering the program.

Of those who reported no income at admission, 38% had income after 6 months, 83% say their support network has improved, and 97% of clients have no new arrests. Safety Net clients are making progress in all areas of their lives.

Safety Net Services is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. For more information, please call 655-9880, ext. 123.

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