Families come to Bridge House because they have questions about: What’s occurring for their loved one, Why it’s occurring, and most importantly, What to do about it. We operate from the idea that humans have an inherent desire for wellness, and when you just simply hold space and get out of their way, they will move towards it. When you try to fix things for them, you try to change them, and when you try to take their struggle away, you are communicating that they are not capable. We know that success in a residential setting doesn’t always correlate to success beyond. How do we know that the Bridge House model of assessment and treatment actually works? How do we measure our outcomes? There are some measurable factors that allow us to understand the effect that we are able to have on our residents and their families.
- Program Completion: We know that people cannot make change if there is no dissonance. If there is not a sense of conflict, people are not going to start trying new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of being, new ways of seeing themselves. This process can be uncomfortable. That discomfort is necessary and we don’t want to eliminate the struggle or tell them they shouldn’t be struggling. No change is going to take place without it. Getting people through our doors for enrollment is one thing, but engaging with them in a way that allows them to feel safe, heard and cared about, on those days when the discomfort is at it’s pinnacle, is another task altogether. Many of the people we serve at Bridge House have had multiple experiences with mental health professionals and treatment settings that have not ended well. Our people tend to be defended and hesitant to trust. We know we must create a different outcome and we must create rapport and relationship from day one, so that we can allow our residents to see this process through to the end.
When looking at difficult elements of one’s own life story, or when surrendering access to mal-adative coping mechanisms, life can feel uncomfortable. Humans inherently try to avoid discomfort. For most of our residents, when this struggle is present, they will think about leaving Bridge House, they might talk about leaving Bridge House, and some of them might actually choose to leave the program.
For our Team, a worst-case outcome is when someone leaves the program against medical advice. We work tirelessly to establish a genuine connection with each individual who comes through our doors. And it works. 94% of residents who enroll with us will complete the Bridge House program. Considering that nearly everybody thinks about leaving, talks about leaving or actually chooses to leave for a period of time, we find that the relationships that we have built with our residents allows them to feel cared about here. For those who choose to leave the program, within a matter of hours or sometimes days, they are able to recognize that they have felt seen and heard, and they will come back to engage in the Bridge House process with us. We know that if we can tap into each individual’s inherent desire for connectivity and wellness, we can together create a different outcome. At their core, our people want to feel better.
- What Comes after Bridge House: All of our people will need continued support in one form or another once they leave Bridge House. When residents enter Bridge House they typically are resistant to considering that there may be a long road ahead . About two thirds of the way through a resident’s time with us, we sit down with them and with their treatment team to review all that we have learned about them in our time together. In addition to discussing their diagnosis, we spend time outlining their support plan, and our recommendations for services following Bridge House. By this point in the process, our people are able to hear these recommendations as coming from a place of trust and relationship. Our recommendations will mean nothing if our people do not feel seen and understood in this process. It’s common for residents to remark that “finally someone gets me.” Often with tears in their eyes, they wonder “why didn’t someone ever tell me this before?”. It can be a very powerful experience. What they, and their families, are feeling at that moment, is hope. Hope for a different outcome. Hope that their life can be different with this new understanding of their own capacity, and how their brain functions. 94% of our people completing the program, are able to accept the recommendations presented to them in this meeting and agree to continue on the road to health and healing.
- Follow up: Bridge House was established on the belief that the mental health system in our country is broken. If we cannot get our people to the right level of care post Bridge House then we have further contributed to this broken system. It matters nothing what we do here if it cannot be generalized out in the world. We put a tremendous amount of energy into finding the level of support that fits the needs of each of our residents. It is a very individualized process taking into account all elements of support that one might need, including but not limited to: therapeutic needs, psychiatric needs, medical needs, social needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, recreational needs and nutritional needs. Following discharge, our team contacts the care providers who are working with our people and we ask if our people were prepared. We want to learn what their regression looked like, and if they landed in the right level of care, based on our recommendations. To the extent where these pieces of feedback are objective and measurable, we have found that 84% of our people, and their care teams, would report that our recommendations were on target for support post Bridge House.
In short, what success looks like, can vary from person to person. Our hope is that our people can believe that it is possible to have a different outcome. That they can start feeling better about themselves and start believing that it’s possible to live a life of independence that is meaningful and that they can be proud of.