Rocky Mountain Human Services this month celebrated the first year of work for its innovative Transition Specialist Program, which helps people make the transition from behavioral health and substance use treatment programs into the community.
TSP is funded through a contract with the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health and has 11 transition specialists and four peer bridgers.
Transition specialists work as case managers, supporting clients through crisis services. Typically, they are the first to be called. Peer bridgers, who have lived experience with recovery, are available for clients who may want or need additional support. Staff work closely with individuals to help them meet their goals. During its first year, the program’s transition specialists and peer bridgers served 248 clients across Colorado.
One of those people was Sarah Bedore.
Sarah, a 23-year-old Boulder resident, began services with TSP in March during the COVID-19 pandemic. The acute treatment center she stayed at shut down due to the stay-at-home order and discharged her early. Like many others, Sarah was not sure where to go.
“Sarah was in an unfortunate situation due to the early release and the COVID-19 situation,” explains Kelly Nix, Sarah’s transition specialist. Nix like many other transition specialists, works to ensure clients have necessities such as food and a place to live.
“TSP gave me a place to stay. Now I don’t have to worry about a place to sleep and can focus on myself and getting a job,” Bedore said. Since then, she has been in motels and hotels that Nix books for her. Nix hopes to find a permanent living situation for her in Boulder.
Like so many others, TSP staff are working remotely and communicating with clients virtually. For newer clients like Sarah, the stay-at-home orders have made it a little harder to build a relationship with case managers. However, TSP staff are doing everything they can to support clients, even providing supplies such as tablets to communicate with staff.
Nix supplies groceries twice a month for Bedore through TSP program funding. She also texts her every few days to check in. Bedore is happy with the services she has received and having someone to lean on during this time has been invaluable. She recently connected with her peer bridger, Destiny, and is looking forward to taking that next step in the transition process.
Meeting Basic Needs
“It is hard to begin the journey to recovery when you don’t have your basic necessities,” said TSP Program Manager Lindsey Lambert.” We can’t expect people to recover if they don’t have their basic needs met.”
Lambert appreciates working for a program that allows staff to help clients connect to support groups and take on barriers that may affect their success.
“They make me feel like there’s someone looking out for me. And that’s great!” Bedore said about the TSP program.
Sarah’s story is one that has been shaped by the COVID-19 crisis. Because of the flexible nature of the program, TSP staff were able to offer unique support to respond to the situation. However, the individualized support, the hard work and the dedication demonstrated by Kelly Nix are not out of the ordinary. Every client involved with TSP is offered individualized support in response to their situation. Program flexibility in combination with staff compassion and dedication is what makes the Transition Specialist Program special.