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Adult Services Focus Groups Summary Report - Consumer Quality ...

Adult Services Focus Groups Summary Report - Consumer Quality ...

In fifteen of these

In fifteen of these focus groups, participants were asked to discuss their views of the adultmental health system. Fourteen groups consisted of adults with mental illness, and onewas made up of family members.Each focus group had a particular topic for CQI to explore in depth. Thus, several groupswere asked to consider specific subject matter, including “recovery oriented care,” peeroperatedservices, wellness, medical care, and eligibility and access to services. Othergroups consisted of a particular population group, including groups with senior citizens,youth in transition, parents with mental illness, people living in rural areas, andCambodian-Americans. Participants in every group were also asked to talk about severalcommon topics as well: their description of “person-centered care,” continuity andcoordination, their service needs, and service gaps in general.FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANTSFourteen of the fifteen focus groups discussed here consisted solely of adults with mentalillness, most of whom were DMH clients. These focus groups included a total of 145participants. The majority of participants were white/Caucasian, although there wasmulticultural representation in most groups. Groups were held in all areas of the state.COMMON THEMESAlthough each group focused on a particular topic, strong themes emerged across thegroups about adult mental health and services. For this report, we grouped the themesinto four topic areas: 1) critical/basic needs, 2) prevention, 3) consumer-driven care, and4) program and services staff. Each theme we discuss in this report was important tomany of our focus group participants. Most of these themes are also discussed in theindividual focus group reports.Basic NeedsHousingStable and affordable housing was a central concern for many participants in the adultfocus groups. Participants often identified good housing as being fundamental to theirindependence, recovery and wellness.Participants shared their struggles with maintaining stable housing, many saying that acrisis in their lives, either mental health or family related, was the reason they had beensuddenly faced with homelessness. Having an early intervention when a mental health orfamily crisis arises prevents much more challenging problems, such as addiction orhomelessness.Homeless shelters were considered crowded, unsafe, and “not taking people anymore”.One person said that shelters were particularly difficult for consumers because, “YouConsumer Quality Initiatives6/26/062

can’t get yourself together in a place like that. We got stuff on our minds.” Manyparticipants felt that more outreach was needed to the homeless population.TransportationMany participants were concerned with a lack of transportation, which impacts all otherissues (e.g., getting medications, medical/mental health appointments, shopping, housing,and employment). Participants reported that many consumers usually do not have accessto an automobile, and thus are reliant on public transportation, their programs, and/orfriends and family. MassHealth funded transportation (PT-1), which a local transportationcompany coordinates, is available for medical appointments and some rehabilitationservices. However, it can be difficult to access and is not always on time.This was a particular challenge for people in rural areas, where there is no “real” publictransportation. At best, there are often only a few buses available, which can beunreliable.Dental, Medical, and Eye CareMany participants were concerned about the lack of available medical care resources.The situation was most acute in rural areas, such as Western Massachusetts where there isnot a great concentration of wealth or academic medical centers. Several reported thatspecialists are a long distance away.Many participants’ greatest concern was the lack of good dental coverage and care. Theysaid that MassHealth now covers only extractions, but not basic preventative care.Without dental care, they said that other aspects of their life (employment, self-esteem,medical health) are negatively affected.Participants were also very concerned that eye care and eyeglasses were not covered byMassHealth. This again affected their rehabilitation and employment prospects.PreventionMany of our participants found psychiatric and/or DMH services only after a series ofcrises brought them into the system. Service access was often driven by incapacitation,homelessness, and/or incarceration or other criminal justice involvement. Participantsstrongly recommended more preventative services through outreach and education.Education on Mental Illness and StigmaParticipants felt that the public needs to be educated about mental illness and how to gethelp for it. They wanted the public to know that people with mental illness can get better,that it’s OK to ask for help, and that there can be services available to help them. Theyfelt that DMH should have more of a presence in the community (for stigma reduction,outreach, and education purposes), and have peers as full and natural participants in thisendeavor.Consumer Quality Initiatives6/26/063

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