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 disorders typically have extensive histories of trauma. To best support our residents, Cazenovia Recovery Systems seeks to address the underlying causes of substance use.
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 and ITTIC is now being used as a model to embed the practice into other organizations across the nation.
Thanks to Trauma-Informed Care, 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
Trauma-Informed Care has its own distinctive model. It includes:
- Showing awareness of how histories of trauma affect individuals.
- Encouraging understanding of trauma and substance use.
- Promoting healing and recovery while preventing re-traumatization.
- Asking “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 Trauma-Informed Care 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 Trauma-Informed Care 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. These include:
- A 36% reduction of unplanned discharges
- A 15% increase in a feeling of cooperation at our programs
- A 5% increase in knowledge about Trauma-Informed care
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 Trauma-Informed Care. These include:
- Reflective conversations throughout the agency that foster innovative solutions to common problems
- Group counseling sessions that focus specifically on trauma and substance use
- Open-door policies at all of our programs
- Reviewing and adapting policies to ensure a trauma-informed environment of care and work
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