Summary of COMHAR'S Outreach Assessment and Treatment Services (OATS)
Conference held at Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment on October 6, 2004
COMHAR, Inc. is a community Mental Health/Mental Retardation center located at 100 West Lehigh Avenue, which serves the residents of Kensington, Juniata, and Port Richmond sections of Philadelphia. Residents of these areas are Caucasian, African-American, and Latino. COMHAR was awarded a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to increase the accessibility and availability of services to the elderly residents of this catchment area.
Efforts will be directed to the Latino elderly population whose needs for mental health care have become increasingly apparent. Gerontologists have consistently noted reluctance of older adults to seek help from mental health centers. Elder Latinos have been even more resistive than the general population to make use of services from community mental health centers. As a result of vigorous outreach, the number of Latinos served by COMHAR has extended from 20 clients to 500 in the past two years. With this new Outreach and Assessment Program, COMHAR will attempt to treat Latino elders experiencing depression and other age related mental disorders.
Individuals 60 years of age or older with a primary mental health disorder such as thought disorders. Major depression and other depressive disorders, anxiety disorders or adjustment disorders related to aging are a high priority for this program. Persons with symptoms of dementia with paranoid and depressive features will also be eligible for this program. The objective is to retain people in the community, and avoid costly hospitalization or institutional placements which are disruptive to consumers and their families.
Major elements of the service design are;
- Rigorous Case Finding via contacts with local health districts, hospitals, senior
- Geriatric Assessment and Psychiatric Evaluation, if needed
- Clinical Counseling In-Home, and sites other than COMHAR
- Consultation to families and care givers of elderly clients
- Case management
- Training of staff in the care and management of geriatric consumers
- Sensitivity of staff to cultural diversity
100 West Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19133-4097 - 215-203-3000 - Fax 215-203-3011 TDD 800-654-5944
Summary of COMHAR's OAP
Linkage with other agencies is fundamental for all clients, and especially for the older consumers who have multiple problems, (housing, medical disorders, and financial concerns).
- COMHAR will establish a positive working relationship with the local health centers.
- Linkage will be made with local hospitals so that referrals can be made prior to medical discharge.
- COMHAR's In-Home Service will assume an important role in providing continuity of care to clients.
- Information about this outreach program will be widely distributed throughout the catchment area.
- Notice of this program will appear in local newspapers.
A full time Bilingual clinical social worker will be hired to carry out the outreach and counseling aspects of the program. The clinical social worker will be based at 100 West Lehigh Avenue, but the major portion of the time will be spent in client's homes, area hospitals, health centers, senior centers, and personal care homes. A part-time Social Work Consultant will be hired to work with the clinical social worker in the initial development of the program. A psychiatric resident will be available for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. An experienced COMHAR staff person will provide administrative oversight.
An essential factor to the success of the Outreach and Assessment Service, is an Advisory Committee, that can contribute to the support and guidance in shaping a program that will be responsive to the mental health needs of the elderly community residents. A concerted effort will be made to recruit a board that will have 50% representative of members 55 years of age or older. Board members will include consumers, family members, community residents, and representatives of agencies participating in this program.