Pam Harper takes a very unique approach to her responsibilities as case manager at Cazenovia Manor. Her innovative methods stem from her previous experience as a teacher and mental health counselor. “With my background in education, I get to be very creative and think outside the box,” she said. For instance, Pam, who has bachelor’s degrees in Education and Social Work from Buffalo State College, holds activities that reinforce mindfulness and relaxation. One such activity involved coloring a large mural with residents, which is pictured behind her above.
Her focus on keeping things interesting and engaging makes a difference for residents. “Sometimes when they come in, they’re resistant,” she explained. “They tell me that they’ve done these kinds of groups so many times before that they could teach them.” To change these attitudes, Pam presents the information in a different way. She uses games, scenarios, and even children’s books. “I use Dr. Seuss a lot,” Pam said with a smile. These books, while simple, contain powerful lessons. Pam’s goal is to get residents to analyze the topics and dig deep. “They can still relate to the messages, especially the ones about self-esteem.”
Pam has been at Cazenovia Manor for over two years and has witnessed many positive changes at the program. She’s especially thrilled for the conversion to Rehabilitation. “We’re all still very excited about it,” she said of her team. “It’s a huge change. When residents realize all of the services that are onsite, it puts a whole new light on what they’re going to be focusing on,” she explained. “I enjoy the fact that we’re evolving,” Pam added. “We’re recognizing that you have to work with the substance use, mental health, housing, medical, and family pieces together. It’s such a relief to know that the agency is going in such a strong direction.”
The new program has brought a change in her responsibilities since so many services are now onsite. Previously, she connected residents to other substance use and mental health treatment providers in the community during their stay. “Everything is in-house now, so I’m concentrating more on setting them up for those services when they discharge” she said.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the team atmosphere at Caz Manor. “It’s so open and pleasant,” Pam explained. “Everyone works together.” This is a common tale told by Caz Manor staff members. “I’m so inspired by my team. When I get here, I feel like I’m coming home sometimes.”