What has been most instrumental to your progress?
The Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) stepping up and contributing their time to make the project be successful was instrumental to our success. We had large community meetings that included large numbers of the many stakeholders in the crisis system. During these meetings the CPS participated at a consistent level with other types of stakeholders. As soon as we moved in to the smaller groups and started to develop the program, the CPS really stepped up and took a leadership role in the development and shaping of the pilot. This ensures that the pilot works for the CPS and for the consumer in a different way than if other staff would have stepped up.
Ramsey County stepping forward with a CPS that was already on staff allowed us to jump start the pilot because we did not need to go through a lengthy posting and hiring process. This would not have been possible without a very close working relationship between the County and the Alliance.
We had very good attendance at our community meetings that allowed us to move forward with good input, and made others aware of the project - resulting in contacts and calls from other interested individuals and organizations who are considering CPS in their care delivery model.
Key lessons learned
Things take time to develop more organically when working on systems change, especially involving peer based recovery services. While we have kept our process as envisioned in our original proposal, we have taken significantly longer to launch the pilot than was hoped for, mostly due to moving deliberatively. Also,
One of our strengths is our relationship with Ramsey County to provide the staffing for the pilot. One of our challenges is navigating Ramsey County as a large public system with many policies and processes that limit flexibility and take time to navigate. We were unable to enter in to an evaluation contract in a timely way due to Ramsey County’s contracting procedures – this will not change our data evaluation efforts, but will delay them.
Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving
Inclusive. When working with Certified Peer Specialists, you must include the perspective of the consumer in your work. This project has truly been built by being inclusive of the ideas and insights of the CPS that will be doing the referrals to the program and the community based services offered by the program. Without inclusion by all of the CPS involved in the program, we would not be successful with this innovation.
Other key elements of Community Innovation
Relationships. We were able to get a quick start on this project because of our existing and long standing relationships among key partners.
Understanding the problem
There continues to be clarity that innovative approaches are necessary to improve the mental health system and support individuals in the community to improve their recovery experience and reduce inappropriate use of higher levels of care. The system is struggling to break old habits and patterns that stop this approach from being sustainable.
If you could do it all over again...
This is going to take longer than you think. I would have given more time for organic growth and working with large systems so that our grant timeline would be more accurate.
One last thought
We launched our pilot in September, and it got off to a slower start than we anticipated – fewer referrals because of the loss of a referring peer at St. Joes, and needing extra time to get connected to Diane Ahrens Crisis Residence. Just as we were beginning to see an increase in referrals in November, our CPS took a promotion within Ramsey County. We have begun working with Ramsey County to fill the position and hope to be online again in December or January. We will be requesting an extension of our grant period to allow us to serve more individuals and collect data on the outcomes of the program.