The Assisted Outpatient Treatment Services (AOTS) program at CarePlus is effectively demonstrating the benefits of court ordered behavioral healthcare on recidivism in hospitalizations, incarcerations/arrests, and homelessness.
Under the guidance of James Nono, LCSW, the AOTS team at CarePlus delivers community-based mental health services to individuals age 18 years or older with severe and persistent mental illness, who have demonstrated difficulty adhering to treatment. The program focuses on access to treatment and support services, as well as intensive intervention treatment and case management, in an effort to sustain the individual within the community.
“The majority of our clients had previously been going through the ‘revolving door’, cycling in and out of the hospital for a number of years due to being either unable or unwilling to follow up with recommended mental health treatment,” explained James Nono, AOTS Program Director at CarePlus. “Many did not have access or did not recognize the value. In turn, this cycling also puts a strain on the mental health system as a whole, preventing access to the hospital for numerous other clients in need of services.”
The goal of the program is to assist those who are court ordered to treatment to remain in the least restrictive environment by providing a person-centered approach to wellness through comprehensive outpatient services, care coordination, and a referral system that address the individual’s needs.
Specifically, the AOTS team works to create rapid access to services that will address the intensive needs of individuals who, in the absence of the program and support, may have no option but hospitalization. The program also coordinates community-based alternatives that will enhance treatment adherence for consumers who, if not so engaged, would be candidates for involuntary commitment to inpatient treatment.
“Basic needs, such as stable housing, are absolutely essential to our clients’ recovery,” Nono continued. “Without their basic needs being met and knowing where they are going to lay their head at night, it becomes extremely difficult for our clients to focus on psychiatric treatment because it becomes secondary.”
AOTS has been able to successfully transition clients that are homeless into stable, permanent housing. AOTS assists the client in securing permanent housing through either self-pay, rental assistance, or Section 8 housing vouchers.
Of the 52 total clients served by AOTS during FY’17, 14 were homeless within 1 year prior to AOTS, 9 of which were enrolled without a permanent address upon intake. Directly because of AOTS involvement, 7 clients were able to secure temporary placement at the Bergen County shelter, of which all 7 of these clients have already secured permanent housing in the community. Of the 43 consumers enrolled that were not homeless, 0% experienced homelessness while enrolled.
Additionally, in tracking data from the 52 individuals served by AOTS during FY’17, it was found that when comparing one year prior and one year post AOTS enrollment, individuals were:
- 69% less likely to re-hospitalize
- 100% less likely to be arrested or incarcerated
It is also significant to note that the services by AOTS at CarePlus resulted in the 52 individuals collectively spending 1,031 less days in an inpatient hospital with AOTS involvement, which translates to the state/local government saving approximately $4,800,336.
“There are many different feelings surrounding the involuntary commitment to outpatient treatment,” Nono stated. “So far, we are seeing that there is a significant reduction in days spent in an inpatient hospital with AOTS involvement. The hope is for our clients to gain insight by recognizing the direct correlation between their compliance with mental health treatment and their ability to remain out of the hospital. Ultimately, we remain optimistic that our clients will see the value and continue to follow up with treatment on their own volition, as we often observe at discharge from AOTS.”
The AOTS team at CarePlus continues to work to broaden the network of referral sources through in-service trainings and open communication. The team provided continued training/education on multiple occasions to various referring entities, such as the professionals at sites including Bergen Regional Medical Center, Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital, and Englewood Hospital, in order to increase awareness for the need for outpatient commitment, as well as to build collaborative relationships.
AOTS Contact Information:
James Nono, LCSW
Phone: 201-478-4183 x5532
CarePlus NJ, INC. is dedicated to excellence in mental healthcare and has a commitment to life-long support needed by individuals and their families to ensure that they achieve their full potential and improve the quality of their lives.