Community-based services change lives during pandemic

Serious mental illness can create barriers for people to enjoy the most fulfilling lives. Through Rosecrance’s community-based services, these residents receive personalized care and treatment to navigate daily life and develop basic skills that enable them to function in society.

Community-based services took on a more-important role during the COVID-19 pandemic, as clients were more isolated than before and faced extra barriers to maintain a sense of normalcy. Though many of Rosecrance’s services transitioned to virtual delivery for safety, the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Community Support Team (CST) continued to meet in person with clients.

These two programs provide support to clients with conditions such as schizophrenia spectrum disorder, bipolar or psychotic disorder, with ACT offering the highest level of care and CST helping clients meet goals in order to transition to less intensive treatment. In addition, Rosecrance’s community-based services include the Therapeutic Intervention Program, which helps people in the criminal justice system who have mental health or substance use disorders. Through TIP, they receive therapy to meet goals established by Winnebago County’s problem-solving treatment team.

“Our teams care very deeply about the clients they work with, so when the pandemic hit, the staff knew the risks and were still willing to be on the front lines,” said Community-Based Services Coordinator Adam Figlewicz. “They took necessary safety precautions and kept providing services like always to make sure clients were safe and had their needs met.”

To help clients manage challenges of an unusually-isolated world, staff found creative ways to encourage engagement. Instead of group activities or using facilities like a gym, clients were introduced to mindfulness practices, hiking trails, and home-based workouts. For those who wanted to stay connected with loved ones, staff assisted with technology setup. And, as clients needed a thoughtful conversation to process life turned upside-down, staff were willing to lend an ear to help work through the unusual times.

Thanks to relationships with private landlords and the City of Rockford, Rosecrance found stable housing for all ACT and CST clients who needed shelter. This included an ACT client who had not been in stable housing most of his adult life. The team advocated for the client’s needs, helped establish the individual in an apartment, and as a result, his health and attitude toward life improved. The client now spends his days in a favorite rocking chair listening to classic rock music from the comfort of his own home.

In addition, the TIP program celebrated several graduations through the pandemic. Classes and graduations were held virtually, which allowed clients to mark their progress during the year.

“I’m grateful for the work our teams have done, especially this past year,” Figlewicz said. “Their dedication helped clients find new ways to thrive and remain connected to the community through challenging times.”