The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study revealed that traumatic events have dramatic effects on the well-being of individuals later in life. This is important for the work that we do. Individuals with substance use diagnoses typically have extensive histories of trauma. Cazenovia Recovery Systems seeks to address the underlying causes of substance use in the individuals we support.
Thanks to funding from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, Cazenovia Recovery Systems participated in a three-year partnership with The Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC). This effort transformed the organization into trauma-informed agency. As such, we now prioritize Trauma-Informed Care and its five principles. These are choice, collaboration, empowerment, safety, and trust. We bring them into everything we do. In fact, our experience with Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) and ITTIC is now being used as a model to embed the practice into other organizations across the nation.
Thanks to TIC, our organization creates positive outcomes for people who often have extensive histories of trauma. As an agency, we are committed to providing an organizational environment that is trauma-informed for both residents and staff.
The Basics of Trauma-Informed Care
The Trauma-Informed Care model:
- Shows awareness of how histories of trauma affect individuals.
- Encourages understanding of trauma and substance use.
- Promotes healing and recovery while preventing re-traumatization.
- Asks “What happened to this person?” instead of “What is wrong with this person?”
Trauma-Informed Care Changes and Outcomes
Since undertaking this transformational commitment, we have implemented many positive changes throughout the organization. Hundreds of hours of staff trainings took place within two years. Additionally, there are TIC mentors and champions at each program that train and orient new staff to the model. Each of these developments impact both staff and residents. Thanks to inspiration from the TIC model, our agency:
- Understands the role that trauma plays in the lives of the people we support
- Emphasizes physical safety and comfort at our programs
- Invites residents to participate in program rules, events, and plans
- Ensures person-centered treatment and discharge plans
- Focuses on building trust and emotional safety with residents, especially in their first 30 days
- Creates person-centered guidelines for procedures that promote choice and collaboration
- Encourages self-care in both residents and staff
At the end of the project, we evaluated our transformation as a whole. Not surprisingly, we achieved some impressive outcomes, such as:
- A 36% reduction of unplanned discharges
- A 15% increase in a feeling of cooperation at our programs
- A 5% increase in knowledge about TIC
Sustaining Trauma-Informed Care
We accomplished a remarkable amount of change in a short period. Now, Cazenovia Recovery is working to continue its positive developments related to TIC. These include:
- Reflective conversations throughout the agency that foster innovative solutions to common problems
- A “Shout Out” board at Liberty Hall that promotes encouragement and gratitude for staff and residents
- Open-door policies at all of our programs
- Reviewing and adapting policies to ensure a trauma-informed environment of care and work