Benchmark Blog

Exemplar – June, 2023

Jun 09, 2023
Benchmark Blog

Welcome to Exemplar, the Benchmark company newsletter. Enjoy, and please contact our staff with any questions, Courtney Heiser, Chief Culture Officer or Sarah Chestnut, Director of Development Strategies.

Benchmark’s ACCESS Model Demonstrating Results

Benchmark Human Services is the only people-focused consultative organization that supplements, strengthens, and expands support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and complex needs for providers and caregivers who support this population because we believe we can produce better outcomes while reducing costs and stressors to the service delivery system. Benchmark Human Services is thrilled to share the success of the Advancing Crisis Care and Enhancing Support Systems (ACCESS) model, an exciting initiative representing our commitment to advancing crisis support for individuals with IDD and complex needs through a comprehensive and personalized approach.

Drawing on our extensive experience in serving individuals with diverse needs and challenges, we have developed the ACCESS model to share our insights with other providers, aiming to prevent placement disruptions, reduce reliance on costly, ineffective interventions, divert unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and prioritize person-centered care. Through collaborative partnerships with state agencies and health plans in Alabama and Arkansas, ACCESS has already proven its adaptability and effectiveness in achieving better outcomes for individuals with IDD and their caregivers.

At the heart of the ACCESS model is our dedication to enhancing the capabilities of caregivers and partner agencies by delivering high-quality behavioral consultation and crisis support services. Our clinical staff, armed with expertise and experience, provide remote crisis intervention, staff coaching and training, remote and on-site crisis intervention, consultation on complex cases, and improving behavior incident reporting systems.

The ACCESS model follows a three-stage approach: Analysis, Engagement, and Empowerment. We begin by conducting a comprehensive systems analysis, collecting crucial data that informs the development of customized supports. This model addresses specific challenges and streamlines crisis response, incorporating elements such as enhanced caregiver and staff coaching and training, increased access to mental health supports, behavioral consultation, crisis intervention services, crisis respite, improved communication across multidisciplinary teams, and more effective staff onboarding and retention strategies. Ultimately, our aim is to empower partnering agencies to proactively prevent crises, and when a crisis does occur, take a leading role in crisis management and resolution.

For more information about the ACCESS program and how Benchmark Human Services is empowering caregivers and providers to enhance behavioral and crisis supports for individuals with IDD and complex co-occurring needs, contact our team: Sarah Chestnut, Director of Development Strategies; John Lovett, Alabama State Director.

Visit Us This Week at NASDDDS Mid-Year Conference

Stop by Exhibit Booth 22 to say hello and click the video below to hear from Charles Burd, Benchmark’s Arkansas Director, who will be presenting at the Conference.

Benchmark’s Children and Family Services Span Geography and Disciplines

Benchmark Human Services (Benchmark) has provided specialized children’s services since 1996. We serve children and their families through various programs including early intervention services for infants and toddlers; autism and behavior services; case management/service coordination; and family preservation. Our programs provide guidance, education, evaluation, hands-on support and therapies, and more to over 5,600 children and their families across Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, and Virginia, helping to keep children and their families happy, healthy, and safe.

Benchmark’s expertise spans the spectrum of needs, from conducting eligibility assessments to providing hands-on services such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies. These services help infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays learn new skills that typically develop during the first three years. We work closely with our county and state partners, being mindful of the needs of all involved, to develop nimble and efficient programs to maintain pace with the population’s growing needs. This propensity has allowed us to rapidly expand in Connecticut from serving 100 children in 2021 to 1,000 in 2022. In addition to therapy services, we have decades of experience as a System Point of Entry (SPOE) entity coordinating care for families entering and navigating through the early intervention systems. This spawned a natural progression into providing case management for all children, ensuring their access to services and programs needed.

At Benchmark, we understand the difficulties families often face when their child is diagnosed with autism. That’s why we partner with families to provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Services to help reduce aggressive or difficult behaviors, increase social and communication skills, and help children with autism succeed at home, school, and in the community. These services include; evaluation and testing for Autism Spectrum Disorder; behavior therapy; social skills development; group therapy; and family therapy. Our philosophy consists of a strong home and community-based approach to provide support and therapy where it is needed most. Currently, we offer these services in three regions in Georgia based in the Decatur, Milledgeville, and Savannah areas as well as in the Great Falls region of Montana.

In July 2020, Benchmark partnered with the Indiana Department of Child Services to provide Family Preservation Services to three regions in Northeast Indiana. By January 2023, the Family Preservation Program was expanded statewide to include referrals from justice-involved youth. Family Preservation’s mission is to keep children in their homes without compromising their safety. This community-based, in-home program walks alongside families with complex needs that include but are not limited to domestic violence, poverty, mental illness, medical neglect, substance use, intellectual disabilities, etc. Our team meets families where they are and utilizes a trauma-informed lens to support families in increasing their protective factors and decreasing their risk factors. At times services will include case management, skill building, and therapeutic intervention, but other roles include advocating for individuals/families, coordinating with additional supports to increase their natural supports, monitoring and supporting concrete assistance, and transportation.

To learn more about Benchmark’s Children and Family Services, contact Rick Adams.

Telehealth Proves Effective Tool for Crisis Intervention

Telehealth was recently approved as an intervention that can be used by mobile crisis teams in the state of Georgia to improve access to crisis services. Telehealth allows a team of non-licensed staff to respond to an individual in crisis quickly, and then facilitate a Zoom intervention between the individual and an off-site licensed clinician. Telehealth is utilized in cases where there is a shortage of licensed staff, or an individual may be in a safe environment such as an emergency room, jail, school counselor’s office, etc. Benchmark’s mobile crisis teams have implemented telehealth interventions and are already seeing great success. A recent intervention led to the following testimonial, showing the value of using technology to help keep people safe.

“This letter is to acknowledge the excellence in service experienced today with Marissa Portee, LPC as she assisted our school in dealing with a student in crisis. As a school counselor for 26 years, this was the first time a student attempted suicide in my office. As much experience as I have, what I needed at that moment was a third-party professional to assess the situation and guide me through a protocol to help this student and his family. I am so thankful for Marissa, the mobile crisis phone line, and the use of tele-medicine to ensure the crisis could be handled in real-time rather than waiting until a mobile unit could arrive. Marissa took the time to ask me the appropriate questions. She then talked to the mom and the student to assess next steps. Her guidance was integral in getting this family in the right place to receive help.

I know my fellow school counselors will be glad to hear of this excellent service. While it is one that we hope we never need to call, it is very comforting to know that there are people like Marissa who are here to partner on behalf of our student’s mental health.

– School Counselor, Cobb County School District

To learn more about Benchmark’s behavioral health and crisis services, please contact Brian Gill.

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