Ronnie is carefully tapping the pavement with the walking stick he once refused to use, and he stops when he senses someone trying to rush past him, and he politely steps out of their way.
“When we first met Ronnie he was staying for the night during our winter emergency bed program. We quickly recognized that he needed our attentive care and moved him to the men’s dorms. Ronnie was so stubborn and willful he refused to admit that he was blind or that he needed any help whatsoever.”– Francine Clay, former Case Manager at Lowell Transitional Living Center
His willfulness was an early example of his strength and determination, but the staff at Lowell Transitional Living Center knew it was holding him back. But, in each small step and each decision to try a social service and experience the positive outcomes, he moved forward. Through the encouragement he received from his case manager, Ronnie made an important first steps by accepting services from Elliot Community Human Services and the Mass Commission for the Blind. Today, he has moved out of the shelter and into his own apartment. LTLC continues to support him and ensure that he has the resources he needs to continue his success. They even stick neon tape on his entryway so he can easily recognize the front door to his new home.
Our Case Management Program is the heart of our organization. With our clients, Intake Case Managers develop a plan that will lead to employment and housing. Special attention is given to those with severe mental health issues and our Health and Wellness Coordinator meets with each person individually to address and plan their specific needs.
“Serious mental illnesses disrupt people’s ability to carry out essential aspects of daily life, such as self care and household management. Mental illnesses may also prevent people from forming and maintaining stable relationships or cause people to misinterpret others’ guidance and react irrationally. This often results in pushing away caregivers, family, and friends who may be the force keeping that person from becoming homeless. As a result of these factors and the stresses of living with a mental disorder, people with mentally illnesses are much more likely to become homeless than the general population (Library Index, 2009). A study of people with serious mental illnesses seen by California’s public mental health system found that 15% were homeless at least once in a one-year period (Folsom et al., 2005).
Patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are particularly vulnerable. Poor mental health may also affect physical health, especially for people who are homeless. Mental illness may cause people to neglect taking the necessary precautions against disease. When combined with inadequate hygiene due to homelessness, this may lead to physical problems such as respiratory infections, skin diseases, or exposure to tuberculosis or HIV. In addition, half of the mentally ill homeless population in the United States also suffers from substance abuse and dependence (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Minorities, especially African Americans, are over-represented in this group. Some mentally ill people self-medicate using street drugs, which can lead not only to addictions, but also to disease transmission from injection drug use. This combination of mental illness, substance abuse, and poor physical health makes it very difficult for people to obtain employment and residential stability.” (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Mental_Illness.pdf)
Sometimes it is the little things that require the help of a case manager, such as obtaining a form of identification, or accessing health care. Other times the problems are long standing and difficult. Either way our dedicated team of case managers provide support, education, and guidance on the road to housing and self-sufficiency.
Case Managers promote overall stability, emphasizing physical and behavioral health and nutrition. When needed, our case managers work with those in need of drug/alcohol rehabilitation through relationships with local rehabilitation programs, as well as proving transportation.