Innovative Support of Persons With Mental Illness and Substance Addiction Yields Improved Lives and Savings

Telecare's Alameda County, Calif. 'CHANGES' Program

Lowers Average Annual Costs by 32 Percent per Client

Oct 26, 2005, 01:00 ET from Telecare

    OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent evaluation of the
 CHANGES Dual Recovery Program based in Alameda County, Calif., found that
 psychiatric hospitalizations of the program's first 142 enrolled clients
 decreased by 40 percent, psychiatric emergency room contacts decreased 35
 percent, and admissions to IMD's (Institutions for Mental Disease) decreased
 34 percent.
     CHANGES' evidence-based and innovative practices are designed for
 individuals dually diagnosed with serious mental illness and substance abuse
 problems who have a history of difficulty staying connected to traditional
 mental health and substance abuse services.
     The internal study found that these outcomes yielded savings of nearly
 $900,000 for Alameda County during the one-year study period, when compared to
 data before the program was initiated. These savings amounted to 32 percent
 lower costs per client in the CHANGES program, a comprehensive dual-diagnosis
 program opened in June 2001 as a joint effort between Alameda County
 Behavioral Healthcare Services and Telecare Corporation, which conducted the
     According to Telecare's medical director, Stephen Wilson, MD, clients
 receive services that focus on empowering them to regain control of their
 lives while at the same time decreasing system costs, including jail costs,
 and inappropriate use of the county's overburdened acute and emergency
 psychiatric services.
     "CHANGES uses evidence-based practices to address the complex needs of
 those dually diagnosed with mental illness and substance abuse," said Wilson.
 "Where previously there were no evidence-based practices, we have developed
 innovative approaches," said Wilson. "We are finding that a client-centered
 program that integrates outreach, services, and self-help can achieve
 impressive results."
     According to national statistics, 50 percent of persons with severe mental
 illness are also affected by substance abuse. Dually-diagnosed individuals
 have much higher rates of relapse, hospitalization violence, incarceration,
 homelessness, and serious infections (HIV), than do those with only severe
 mental illness.
     "The traditional sequential or parallel approaches to caring for the
 dually-diagnosed are ineffective," according to Scott Madover, PhD, program
 administrator.  "At CHANGES we de-emphasize the two disorders and offer
 clients an integrated, holistic approach that focuses on recovery of life
 roles, not merely recovering from diseases."
     "CHANGES has revolutionized how we support individuals with dual-
 diagnosis," said Marye Thomas, MD, director of Alameda County's Behavioral
 Health Care Services.  "The old approach was fragmented and costly. In this
 era of limited resources we must focus on behavioral health care programs that
 improve quality of life, while at the same time reducing costs by avoiding
 hospitalization, emergency rooms, or incarceration."
     The report also found that among clients served at CHANGES there was a:
     -- 7 percent improvement in functioning
     -- 11 percent reduction in harm
     -- 30 percent increase in clients living independently
     -- 57 percent decrease in the number of clients living in homeless
     The primary diagnosis of those in the study was schizophrenia (51
 percent), followed by depression and bipolar disorder (18 and 17 percent
 respectively).  Thirty-nine percent abused more than one substance, 22 percent
 abused alcohol, and 19 percent cocaine.
     Based in Alameda, Calif., Telecare works in partnership with local,
 county, state and other behavioral health organizations to design and provide
 a wide range of innovative, recovery-focused, outcomes-driven services and
 supports for high-risk individuals with complex needs. Telecare is an
 employee-and family-owned organization with over 1,900 employees and more than
 50 programs in California, Texas, Oregon, and North Carolina.

SOURCE Telecare