Learning From Each Other

Along the path to where we are now, we were surprised (and sometimes overwhelmed) by all of the systemic considerations and challenges associated with systems change. There were the obvious and known barriers but there were also “hidden” and rarely discussed challenges that hindered moving forward and real change.

I have so many different experiences to share in this regard, and may, in fact, write a book about the amazing and complex process one day. In today’s blog I will discuss just one such challenge.

Years ago, as part of a “test” of Procovery, I went to a meeting attended by myself and Randy Stratt (co-founder and creator of Procovery, and my amazing and very much missed, late husband) along with the owner/operator of a residential care facility, as well as some of the local DMH staff. The DMH designees were discussing the potential of us holding a Procovery Circle at this particular residential care facility, as part of an evaluation of Procovery efficacy.

Despite the real courtesy extended to us, it felt to me, that the owner/operator was both hesitant and uncomfortable with the idea of having a Procovery Circle operate at his site, although he did not express this.

Randy and I felt, from the very beginning, that while WE thought Procovery was the best and most amazing healing resource for some individuals, that absolutely nothing is right for everyone. The more options and resources and choices available the better – each person should be in a position to make this decision for him or her self.

After the meeting was over, concerned about the owner/operator’s potential discomfort, I stopped back in, and asked the facility owner if I could speak with him for a moment. I shared that I felt that he was possibly a bit hesitant to hold a Procovery Circle at his site, and I wanted him to be assured that Procovery is a voluntary program. And that if, for any reason at all, he didn’t want a Circle held at his site, that we would not move forward in that regard. We would very easily select another site with no problems and no questions.

He looked very uncomfortable, shifted around a bit, and finally said slowly and softly

“I am afraid that Procovery will help people heal.”

My head began to spin, but I also respected his feelings and appreciated his genuine, blatant honesty.

He then shared, haltingly and thoughtfully, that he was trying very hard to make ends meet. That when someone first moved in to his site, they were extremely labor intensive, and therefore costly. He said that finding the right room-mate, was an often difficult and disruptive and trying process, but something critical to safety and quality of life. He said finding the right match of worker for each resident, appropriate activities for each resident, ensuring they continue to access their benefits, in part so that, quite simply, the facility got paid, could pay its bills, and so that the resident did not find him or her self, homeless. He said it was important to learn about any family involvement, and what that entailed. He shared that this took time and sensitivity to understand the often multi layer issues and hurt that were associated, and that all of this is labor intensive on the front end.

Furthermore, he said it took real focus and effort to best support any medication routine a new resident arrived with, and that in new surroundings often dosage, type and timing needed to be adjusted to best support a resident’s healing process… And that they also had to find “work arounds” to effectively deal with the “side” effect of medications, learn what food or other restrictions or requirements might exist and often deal with the hugely problematic issues that arose when people went off of their medication, not due to ineffectiveness, but due to anger or frusration, and as a result , he felt, often the individuals did not follow requirements to continue to receive benefits and then were subsequently evicted and living on the street until such time that they began receiving benefits again and moved back – the majority of the time in crisis mode.

And then, he reasoned, if once all of that expensive and labor intensive work was undertaken….if then Procovery helped people heal and move forward… and potentially away…? Well, then, he would find himself on an expensive and reasonably constant merry-go-round of getting people settled only to see them move, and leave space for the next, labor and cost intensive resident, and then the next, and the next and so on. He shared that many of his residents had been there for over a decade and they were now very cost effective, not overly taxing his staff or his budget.

He seemed painfully embarrassed to share this with me.

The owner stated that he was committed to making his facility safe and comfortable and as inclusive and hopeful as possible, but that if Procovery did what he thought it could, he would not financially survive. And then no one would be better off, he reasoned…because he felt he was offering a truly safe, comfortable, caring residence, something that was often very hard to find.

This story is an example of just one of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of barriers and challenges we faced during our extended testing and revision program development stage. After further consultation, the owner of this facility selected to move forward, albeit hesitantly, with a Procovery Circle at his site. That process and lessons learned is enough to fill its own book. But in short, the owner became a huge advocate for Procovery and selected to have staff receive training, supported the Procovery Circle hugely and supported new and exciting events at the facility. I am immensely appreciative of his willingness to honestly discuss his concerns, and his interest in trying a new way of doing things. As a result of his honesty, and the honesty of hundreds of other people, across the country, Procovery changed, evolved and became a powerful vehicle for health care reform and true, sustainable systems change.

Every person involved in the system has their own unique views, considerations, concerns, needs and requirements. The starting point, the path to healing, and the desired destination, will not be the same for any two people. Nor should it be. We are all different. And there is beauty and power and strength in our differences. Yet, while we are all different, we are all interdependent. Together we can make spectacular, unprecedented changes. But one thing we need to do, along the way, is meet everyone where they are, open the lines of communication, and inspire each and every person, agency, community to move forward… We cannot live and work with only our own agenda in mind. To create truly sustainable transformational change, we must learn from each other and work (and celebrate!) together.

“If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.”

-General George S. Patton

“And I think both the left and the right should celebrate people who have different opinions, and disagree with them, and argue with them, and differ with them, but don’t just try to shut them up.”

-Roger Ebert

MHALA, Procovery and Transformation!

We are honored to be supported by powerful and passionate and dedicated people across the country. We are truly inspired by organizations across LA that keep on working, to change lives, and systems, despite often devastating cutbacks and increasing red tape. Some days, it can seem, that people are required to spend more time documenting care, than delivering it. We are inspired by and honored to know so many amazing people, striving for change.

Today we would like to take a moment to shine the spotlight on Mental Health America of Los Angeles. MHALA is an extraordinary and visionary organization here in Los Angeles. They have long been doing the hard work, asking the difficult questions and raising the bar of expectations, so to speak. MHALA has been consistently committed to change, even in an environment in which change can seem nearly impossible.

Today we will share audio clips from four different Procovery podcasts.  Each interviewee is discussing how they feel Procovery ties to health care reform or transformation, with the exception of Angelica, who talks about what initially attracted her to Procovery.

Please click on the individual names to hear each clip and be sure to visit our Procovery iTunes Channel to listen to the full interview podcasts, available for free download!

Catherine Bond, Former Assoc. Dir. & Training Coordinator at PRPSN, Current Vice Chair of the Los Angeles County Client Coalition

Angelica Garcia, Senior Program Manager, Project Return Peer Support Network

“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

–William James

Become a Procovery Guest Blogger!


Please submit your Procovery Guest Blog Entry entry to win the Procovery mug and prizes below, inspired by the Procovery Snippet A Cup of Procovery! 
The author of the selected Procovery Guest Blog Entry will receive:

  • “Have a cup of Procovery today!” Mug
  • Stuffed Animal Lamb with Just Start Anywhere Ribbon 
  • “Believe” Bookmark
  • Candy!
  • 4 Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee Packets
  • Procovery Mini Wallet w/ $5 Starbucks Card
  • 2 Bellagio Caffe Cioccolato Gourmet Mocha Mix (1 Coffee and 1 Dark Chocolate)

Procovery Guest Blog Contest Prize!

If you would like to enter, please send in your submission (can be very short, or up to 300 words) by email to support@procovery.com. The topic for your blog entry can be about anything you feel would be informative, interesting, inspiring or important to share. The winner will have the option of their name and/or location cited, or selecting an anonymous entry. Procovery Institute will need a name and mailing address information even for anonymous entries so as to ship out the prize! 
Entry submissions will be accepted through end of day, Tuesday, May 3, 2011 and the winner will be announced on Thursday, May 5th, 2011. Please indicate GUEST BLOG SUBMISSION CONTEST in email subject line.
We so look forward to reading what you have to share and we know that others will too!!

What Change Will You Create Today?

When we think of spring cleaning, we often think of our homes — getting rid of what we no longer need or what doesn’t work, and making room for what does. Procovery is all about activating change, moving forward and creating the life of our dreams. We can, in essence, spring clean our lives by getting rid of what doesn’t work, and beginning, today, to make room for (and welcome!) what does. 

Creating Change is one of twelve Procovery strategies and below is a Procovery Note found on Page 110 of The Power of Procovery in Healing 

Move forward in small ways or big ways. 
You decide how you want to begin the process of change. Remember that sometimes the smallest change is the biggest step. 

“Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.”

–Bruce Barton

What change will you create today?

Let’s Begin to Measure What Matters

There is a lot of talk about how we can no longer afford to keep doing the same thing – that individuals, counties, states, and the nation, are in debt. That we are living beyond our means, spending money we don’t have, with no end in sight. But there can’t be an end in sight if we just keep doing the same thing and wishing for different results.
So…let’s begin doing something differently – not just wishing, or hoping, for different results.
Let’s begin CONTRACTING for different results. Let’s begin DEMANDING outcomes, contractually, that are therapeutically AND economically a win.
For so long it seemed that people felt they couldn’t measure what really mattered. So, what did they do?
Measure what didn’t.
Let’s begin measuring, expecting and contracting for healing outcomes.
And then?
Let’s hold agencies and people ACCOUNTABLE.
We don’t need to utilize a “tear down” or replacement approach to do this.
We can, in essence, retrain and rebuild and re-inspire current agencies and workforce. Remind them of what they set out to do in the first place. Remind them of the passion and vision that set them on their path and then provide the tools for them to do what they set out to do.
To quote Joseph Parks, MD.*
“In institutionalizing a program across diverse stakeholders, agencies, and settings, we must not just ask providers to implement programs. We must also provide tools to enable them to ensure fidelity and, ultimately, accountability to those they are seeking to serve.”

*Click here for the full Behavioral Healthcare Magazine article, available on amazon.com!

Wishing Backwards

We recently wrote about regret (in the March 29th blog post What Can We Do About the Past?) and how so many feelings can be tied to regret. One thing that is often associated is an inability, or unwillingness, to forgive……….ourselves.

We might regret things we did do, and often equally or more so, we might regret things we didn’t do. It’s so easy to find ourselves looking back, not liking what we see and feeling uncomfortable – about ourselves, our lives, etc.

And yet, in the context of the Procovery program, regrets can be seen as “wishing backwards” which is passive rather than active, because we cannot change one thing that has ever happened in the past.

But… what we can change is how we view the past. And one path for doing this is forgiveness.

We can learn to look at our past, learn from our past, but not get stuck in, or live in, our past.

AND if we can begin to find a way to forgive ourselves, we can sometimes make room, and find a way, to begin forgiving others…
“My life is full of mistakes. They’re like pebbles that make a good road.”

–Beatrice Wood