Friday, 29 May 2015

Mental Health and Wellbeing - Independent Living Skills Program




 Independent Living Skills Program

How much do you take for granted the skills you know that allow you to live independently? Your cooking skills, food preparation and hygiene skills, money management skills, self-care skills, nutrition, exercise skills, public transport skills, cleaning skills, and maintaining a balance skills are all an integral part to maintain your independence. 

For an individual suffering from enduring and persistent mental health illness, these skills are severely reduced.

For the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team at JewishCare, this is a gap in their service that they are pleased to say is now accounted for. Their most recent and highly successful new program -  Independent Living Skills Program - is aimed for clients with a mental illness to have the opportunity to learn about, practice, and improve their independent living skills within a group and home setting.

For the past six weeks, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team at JewishCare have been engaging in an Independent Living Skills Program for several of their clients.

This program is a capacity building initiative which has been organised, planned and currently being facilitated by Kara Sandler, who is a qualified Occupational Therapist working in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team, along with two mental health practitioners from Partners in Recovery a program funded by East Sydney Medicare Local.

The program will run for a three month pilot period and consists of 14 clients. The program consists of group sessions held once a week covering a number of different topics relating to independent living skills, for example; cleaning, money management, nutrition, meal preparation, and lifestyle balance. These sessions are being delivered in partnership with a number of community and government organisations.

In addition to the group session, each client will engage a weekly home visit to support the transference of skills learnt that week to the home environment. As Kara has stated “The research has shown that one of the largest gaps in Mental Health recovery is the ability for clients to learn, transfer, and maintain skills required for an independent and meaningful life. What is so great about this program is how the entire group is able to learn a skill in a social setting which can then be transferred into each clients home environment. This adds value by providing a client centred approach to their learning capacities. It also provides us to adapt and modify clients learning environment based on their individual need and performance.”

At the conclusion of the program, each consumer will receive a booklet of all the handouts used in the sessions. Each client will also receive a report highlighting their progress from the initial assessment and a list of recommendations to continue to work on with their support worker.

The past six weeks have been a huge success, with clients looking forward to each session and home visit. Being at the midpoint of the program, we have already begun to see improvements in each person -  with modifications being established in their home environment, a positive willingness to learn new tips and advice and a step forward for each person achieving their initial goals.

We hope to conduct a thorough evaluation at the conclusion of the program where we will be able to accurately and reliably measure the success and improvement of each client.

For more information about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team, first call JewishCare on 1300 133 660

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