Case Management the BSM Way
November 13, 2015
By Edd Conboy
This year BSM embarked on a new venture that we hope will offer our guests another type of radical hospitality – a team of social workers that will strive to connect our guests to vital services they need to attain or regain more stable lives. Of course at Broad Street we do not have clients; we have guests. So we don’t have case managers; we have concierges. And we take this title of concierge quite seriously. We are working on a model of delivering social services to our guests that is in complete alignment with our overarching mission – providing radical hospitality to all who come through our doors.
So far this year our concierges, Geremi James and Michael McKee, have met with more than 200 guests who needed assistance getting stable housing or shelter. They have succeeded with 40 guests – almost 20% of the total.
By highlighting the journeys of two of our guests who have moved into more safe and secure situations, we will have the opportunity to see how our approach to these crucial services are already having a lasting impact on the culture of BSM.
Erika is a woman who has been coming to BSM for several months. Three years ago she was hit by a car and never fully recovered from that trauma. She was street homeless for a number of years. For a time Erika was living with her daughter, but the relationship became so abusive that she had to leave. Recently she has been spending most of her time in Suburban Station. Erika has a mental health diagnosis. Since she did not trust the outreach team that engages with people living outdoors in the city, it was very difficult for her to access the one shelter for women and children.
With the support of Geremi, our concierge, Erika was able to document her formal status as “homeless”. With that documentation Erika was eligible for a longer-term Safe Haven – a specialized shelter with comprehensive services that supports chronically homeless women with major mental illnesses. She is now stable enough to receive intensive treatment for the traumas she has endured over these many years.
When Edwin first met with our other concierge, Michael, he was reticent to directly confront his mental health diagnosis. For understandable reasons, he was inclined instead to continue living in denial about his situation – leaving him unable to take advantage of resources available to him. Michael worked with him, developing enough trust that Edwin agreed to have Michael facilitate a meeting with a colleague in a crisis management treatment center. One outcome of that meeting was that Edwin was able to connect with an Intensive Case Manager, who he now works with on a weekly basis to gain independent housing and help finding employment. In addition to his mental health, Edwin’s extensive physical challenges are also being addressed for the first time in more than three years.
As part of his job readiness program Edwin is now able to shower regularly and maintain a wardrobe appropriate for job interviews. Without this he would have difficulty securing the job interviews that he is confident will lead to steady employment and a more stable life.
A cornerstone of this new “concierge” model for case management within BSM overarching radical hospitality approach is to meet our guests where they are, and for the team to be poised to respond when guests like Erika and Edwin are ready to take those first steps toward a more stable life.