Maple House is a unique Peer Support Crisis Bed program, one of the first within Vermont in the Designated Agency (DA) system. Maple House started in November of 2012 and it was formerly called the Fallout Shelter. Maple House resides at 9 Heaton St. in Montpelier and is currently offered for Washington County Mental Health Services (WCMHS) Community Support Program (CSP) consumers. Maple House is a peer support run program, meaning the supports come from those with personal lived experience with similar issues as those seeking supports. The program is an alternative option for wellness, during a challenging time in one’s life, within a safe, stable and compassionate environment. Maple House’s mission is to provide compassionate peer support for CSP consumers through offering an alternative option within a safe and supportive environment. The peer staff at Maple House consistently improve their skills and knowledge through internal and external trainings and experiences to assist and provide guests with a safe space to rest and manage the stressors they have come to recognize.
Maple House and the initial stages…
In the beginning of Maple House (aka Fallout Shelter), there was an open canvas for creating the program with some general impressions about what we were going to do as peer staff to start a unique and effective program. With the backing of the directors and managers of WCMHS, we had an opportunity to begin a program that was peer designed and run to serve peer consumers exclusively.
We were all very excited in what could be achieved within this program. The team had personal experience to draw from that informed our planning and decisions about what kind of program we wanted to create. The team and its supporters knew all too well what was lacking in our mental health system. During this time, there was not a program where a person could be empowered, listened to, and supported by their peers to assist in making decisions for themselves within a place that was not binding or involved barriers that traditional mental health programs were set in . It was our goal to know that guests felt they were not looked at as if “there is something not right with you, but rather what is right about you”. Again, one of the main benefits of the program design was guests being among their own peers where both parties could speak mutually to each other’s experiences. This dynamic seemed to be an invaluable piece, without the traditional boundaries between staff and clients. With this different dynamic, it was very encouraging to know Maple House was being supported within a DA like WCMHS.
Since all staff had “been there” at one point in their lives, it was an easy connection to make with the guests who came to Maple House seeking assistance. However, there was a learning curve to being supportive in a non-traditional, dynamic setting coupled with knowing that we as a team were also accountable to our guests, even in challenging situations.
As the old saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child”….well “It takes a team (Maple House and a guest’s clinical team) to ensure a guest’s best stay too”. As the program evolved and the depth of understanding the complexities faced by our guests grew, we felt a slow undercurrent of confidence in offering more nuanced levels of support, which was very encouraging. At the same time, we knew that the staff of Maple House needed to maintain their own stability and be committed to their own well-being in addition to those who came into Maple House. This commitment to self-care was imperative to maintaining the best programming for our guests, and since this transition period we are requiring this from all Maple House staff. We also establish a team effort for each guest, utilizing any one of the guest's team members, to make their stay a valuable one. Our staff are trained through WCMHS in various areas such as Trauma training, NAPPI, Professionalism training, CPR/First Aid, DBT training, and Medication training. Additionally, staff benefit from in-house trainings such as House protocols, skills, and learning modules that occur during team meetings.
At Maple House, we provide a space that is safe and supportive that one can come to before issues get so acute that a higher level of care is needed. We have limitations to who can and cannot be served at Maple House. If a higher level of care is needed due to a guest’s difficulty in being able to take care of oneself, we support them in getting that higher level of care to ensure their best interests are being attended to. For those who do come to Maple House, we support our guest by being available to them in such a way that we can establish a common connection and build the trust that is essential to positive outcomes. Through this approach, our guests feel supported and safe; hence, “We work to build a common thread so the relationship can be woven”.
Maple House has 3 gateways to get into the house: referral from a CSP Case Manager, Emergency Screeners or the Maple House Self-Referral Line. The Maple House line is for clients who wish to make a call for themselves, and this number is 498-4897.
During this fiscal year, we served 59 guests (clients) with an average of 5.6 days each with an overall usage of 332 days. The diversion from a higher level of care out of the 59 guests was over 65 %. As they were given more than one choice at this time, the guests understood that if they did not choose to utilize Maple House, they possibly would have needed different supports which would have been a form of higher level of care. The bottom line is that the cost of higher level of care was avoided and the guests who utilized Maple House were provided the appropriate level of assistance.
Maple House would like to thank all those who have supported this program in any way, ranging from food to support and guidance. We value all the relationships we have from case managers to emergency screeners to the cleaning person who assists us in running of Maple House and especially to WCMHS Director, Mary Moulton, CPS Director, Leslee Tocci, and Manager/Director Laurie Pontbriand.
We encourage you to call or contact Robin Hall, Team Lead of Maple House at RobinH@wcmhs.org or 223-6328 ext. 603 for any questions.
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