Reaching Recovery: a New Model of Care

After more than 51 years as a vital resource in King County, Sound Mental Health (now Sound) has signed on with a new model of service called Reaching Recovery that will bring change to every fiber of the organization.

But SMH is not doing it alone. The inspiration for Reaching Recovery is the Mental Health Center of Denver, which developed the nationally acclaimed program more than 15 years ago and is guiding SMH through the transition. Denver is sharing training tools and data that monitor well-being markers for both clients and staff. Their data even shows that the program in Denver is saving millions in intensive services (such as hospitalization and incarceration) provided by the community.

Katrina Egner, SMH Vice President & Chief Programs Officer, first discovered the Reaching Recovery program at a Netsmart conference in Nashville, where she saw a presentation by Roy Starks, VP, Rehabilitation Services & Reaching Recovery at Mental Health Center of Denver (with a nod to her colleague, Richelle Nordeen, who took her to the seminar).

As someone who has been with SMH for 19 years, Katrina saw that the implementation could be daunting. But she also believes it will be worth the effort — instilling hope and providing measurements for “how and who is getting better. This kind of data helps not only clients and staff but will also be appealing to current and new funding sources.”

Because the model will be embedded into every program and department, Katrina says Reaching Recovery has the complete support of the leadership team. CEO Patrick Evans backs this up.

“We would not invest in a program unless we had confidence that it would help us get to where we want to be,” Evans says. “This program has a proven track record of success in improving client outcomes, increasing staff satisfaction, and producing cost savings over the 15 years Denver has used it. The executive team and many of our staff are excited at what lies ahead for the organization, our clients, and our staff.”

The model inserts 4 Recovery Measurement Tools into the everyday practices of the agency and presents the data in easy-to-read charts measuring success and wellness. These tools are:

  • Recovery Needs Level, matching the appropriate level of service to client needs
  • Recovery Marker Inventory, a staff rating of client progress
  • Consumer Recovery Measure, the client’s rating of recovery growth
  • PRO – Promoting Recovery in Organizations, clients’ evaluation of an organization’s recovery culture

Staff have been most excited about the first tool, the Recovery Needs Level, which matches client needs with the most appropriate service at the right time, improving work flow and caseloads for clinicians.

The 5 Recovery Needs Levels range from the most intensive interventions to eventual maintenance as the client gets stronger:

  • Assertive Community Treatment
  • Intensive Case Management
  • Outpatient with Case Management
  • Outpatient
  • Psychiatry Only (for medications)

More detailed information on Reaching Recovery is available in this video:

“This will bring stability for all,” she explains. “As the client recovers, the sophistication of clinical care will move up as well. The model is exciting; detail-oriented and supportive.”

Sound Mental Health is still relatively early in the transition, and there is much more to do before the program begins to fully reap the benefits, but with Denver’s example as its guide, coupled with the example of more than 10 other providers nationwide using the model, Katrina is confident that Sound Mental Health will be successful.

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