Staffing at the Best Drug Rehabs
As is the case with many different types of medical facilities, the caliber of staff at a particular drug rehab will play a pivotal role in the quality of treatment experienced by patients. If the staff at a particular drug rehab is poorly managed, improperly trained or have a negative bedside manner, the entire program will likely fail.
However, a drug rehab run by trained professionals who are properly managed, who can communicate and work together as a team, and who display a genuine desire to help people recover from addiction will create an atmosphere conducive to effective treatment.
Unfortunately, there are many bad programs out there. Patients, family members and therapists alike often have to sort through various drug rehab facilities to find the real gems. The quality of staff encountered during the initial contacts can be indicative of the nature of the entire program.
Working in a drug rehab is often demanding work. Therapists and clinical staff must receive adequate support from program administrators in order to be the most effective in their particular positions. Happy and relaxed addiction professionals are more likely to be able to develop the therapeutic bonds of trust that are so essential to recovery than their more harried co-workers. In addition, staff members must work together as a cohesive team in order to provide the most comprehensive treatment to an individual patient. It truly does take a village to provide effective drug treatment.
Outpatient drug rehabs, especially intensive outpatient programs (IOP), have particular staffing requirements that can differ from inpatient facilities or more traditional outpatient programs. Since many IOP patients transition to the program directly from a more-intensive inpatient facility, IOP staff frequently deal with patients who have recently experienced significant physical, mental or emotional crises; some of these issues may not have been resolved by the time the patient lands at the intensive outpatient facility.
One of the hallmarks of a particularly effective intensive outpatient program (IOP) is the ability to offer care during “off” hours, such as nights and weekends. Unless the program is active enough to have permanent staff assigned to these shifts, the most attractive hires for treatment positions in an IOP will be those who have the flexibility at home to work odd, and often long, hours. In order to fill in the gaps among full-time practitioners, many drug rehabs employ staff on a part-time or per diem basis. Program administrators often need to expend more time and resources both managing these staff members and ensuring that patient treatment information remains consistently distributed to the treatment team responsible for their cases. Failure to do so will have a negative impact on patient care.
The Role of Staff at Drug Rehabs
Depending on the size of an individual drug rehab facility, the number of staff and assignment duties may vary across programs. In larger drug rehabs, special addiction professionals may be contracted to provide particular services. In smaller settings, staff members may be trained to fill more than one role in the recovery process.
When a drug rehab, especially an IOP, offers specialized services such as detox, family therapy and recreation, it may be necessary to bring in doctors, family counselors and certified recreation therapists.
Staffing sources for drug rehab facilities can vary among type of program. For instance, a drug rehab that is associated with a particular hospital may retain some of the doctors, nurses or social workers that are employed there. Conversely, independent facilities must find staff from other sources in the recovery community. As such, addiction professionals living in a particular geographic area will often be known to staff, administrators and patients across a wide array of facilities.
Intensive outpatient drug rehab programs have three main types of staff. The core clinical staff offers treatment directly to clients and are often responsible for assessment, counseling, medical exams, crisis intervention, nursing care and case management. The second group of staff are considered the support team and are made up of administrative and clerical workers. These workers perform typical administrative functions such as planning treatment programs, purchasing supplies, bookkeeping and contract management. Although not directly involved in patient care, they may have contact with individual patients during the course of treatment. The final group of IOP staff are the adjunct consultants that offer services such as job counseling, acupuncture, massage, and psychological testing.
Drug rehab core clinical medical staff, such as psychiatrists, internists, addiction professionals, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants offer both medical and nursing assessments, intake and continuing medical examinations, addiction and psychiatric evaluations, pharmacological therapy and clinical supervision. Addiction counselors, social workers, and counselors offer assessments, counseling (family, group and individual), education, case management and transition or discharge planning. Many of these employees also facilitate connections with community support service providers.
These core staff members may also be able to offer career counseling, recreation therapy, art, dance or music therapy, nutritional counseling, or educational support (including GED classes).
Although no drug rehab program can be successful without a quality core clinical team, the same is true for the administrative staff. Since this team includes admissions staff, these are often the first people to interact with a potential client. As such, they can mean the difference between an admission and a lost opportunity. The admin team is also tasked with ensuring that the IOP runs like a well-oiled machine. The best drug rehab programs ensure that the administrative staff is kept up to date on the most current addiction research, the particulars of the particular IOP policies and procedures and governmental regulations.