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REACH program fills crisis gap in services continuum

August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
by Leela Lipscombe

Joshua is a 23-year-old male diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety disorder. He lives with his mom.

Joshua ran out of the house and into the woods after arguing with his mother. She made the everyday request that he complete his daily chores in the house. He blew up at her, and the verbal discussion escalated. He took off out of the home.

Mom knew to phone the REACH crisis hotline. A REACH on-call clinical coordinator arrived at the home in a timely manner. The coordinator spoke with Mom and discovered Joshua sitting at the edge of the woods in the back yard, crying.

 When it was all said and done, the mother learned that Joshua was particularly upset because one of his best friends was moving away. He did not know how to discuss this with Mom. The REACH coordinator was instrumental in assessing and intervening in the situation, and supporting the family system of Joshua and his mother. Additionally, as a result, Joshua agreed to attend outpatient counseling to further enhance his system of support. Though this is a fictional scenario, there are many situations in which REACH can be of support.

Regional Education Assessment Crisis Stabilization Habilitation, or REACH, is a statewide program to support adults and children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, as well as mental health conditions or challenging behavior that is negatively affecting quality of life. REACH emphasizes prevention of crises before they occur through early identification, development of crisis response plans, training, and technical assistance.

The underlying philosophy of REACH is that people enjoy the most enriched lives through collaborative community-based supports that deliver person-focused service and include a variety of ways to build natural supports.

Individuals 18 years and older receive services from the adult program. Individuals younger than 18 receive services from the children’s program. Eligibility requires documented evidence of an intellectual and/or a developmental disability and mental health or behavioral needs.

REACH offers clinical assessment and support using a variety of methods: training and empowerment for individuals, families, and caregivers; Mobile Crisis Unit; 24/7 crisis line; START-trained professionals; therapeutic tools; community and home-based crisis intervention and stabilization support; and a multidisciplinary support team utilizing a bio-psycho-social approach.

The crisis therapeutic home is a six-bed facility offering preventative (planned) and crisis stabilization for individuals in need. REACH crisis therapeutic homes are located in each of the five health planning regions of the state. The utilization of the crisis therapeutic home can provide in-depth assessments, a change in setting to allow for stabilization, and a highly structured and supportive environment to improve coping skills and working on desirable goals.

Community crisis response includes crisis stabilization services, wherein REACH offers immediate 24/7 telephone crisis response to provide support, initial consultation and assessment. When necessary, an on-site response will be provided by a trained clinical coordinator within one hour in urban areas and within two hours in rural areas.

In-home crisis stabilization includes support for an individual in his or her home or day setting to prevent a crisis, provide follow-up after a crisis, or for other reasons to promote greater stabilization.

Benefits include supporting individuals in remaining with families, aiding individuals in remaining in their preferred settings, decreasing facility and hospital utilization, increasing community participation, supporting a continuum of care across all systems of support, greater independence, and enhanced success and healthy lives.

How to contact REACH :  

  • Children’s Crisis Hotline: (888) 908-0486
  • Adult Crisis Hotline: (855) 917-8278

Leela Lipscombe works from Region Ten Community Services Board for Developmental Region I supervising  regional crisis contracts.

Originally published in Vital Signs, a weekly column of the Daily Progress which  promotes community health,  and is sponsored by Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, Region Ten Community Services Board, Thomas Jefferson Health District and the University of Virginia Health System.

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