“We are not a baked bean factory”: Days 4 and 5

On Thursday, I visited with the good folks at the Creekside Foyer for an overview of the program and the Greenwich Pathway it is a part of. The Greenwich Pathway is made up of approximately 140 beds in 4 clusters: Creekside Foyer, East, Central, and West. Creekside Foyer is a single 42-bed site, while each of the other clusters is made of up of about 4 buildings each. Each of these clusters has its own main hub, which is a hostel facility with anchor space for staff. Staff float around to the other building within the cluster.

Pathways are basically a way of organizing supports and housing for young people (ages 16-24) within a local authority and are designed to be collaborative and highly integrative. They are set up from high support to low support. The idea is that individuals will work their way from high support to low support (or, if needed, the other way around). Generally, folks stay within the Greenwich Pathway for approximately 2 years before moving on to long-term housing (or other more appropriate options). The local authority acts as the referer and gate-keeper and the professional team that works with each young person (made up of social services, housing, volunteers, etc.) meet about one week.

On Friday, I visited with the good people at Camden Kaleidoscope. This program is a 7 bed program for young people with complex needs – with a particular focus on mental health needs. Kaleidoscope uses the Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) approach. The program is really rooted in this and everything, down to the color of the walls, relates to it.

Kaleidoscope is part of the Camden Pathway. All referrals to this program are for individuals who are “coming from care” (Child and Family Services). All residents have psychiatrists and mental health nurses, who will even visit them on site usually once a week. The program also has a very robust staffing structure.

Many, many thanks to the incredible teams at Creekside Foyer and Camden Kaleidoscope for hosting me and offering your expertise, insight, and answering my many questions.

Since I dream in bullet points, here are some of my key takeaways between the days:

  • Again, the very person-centric approaches of both of these services. I can’t claim credit for the quote in the title – it comes from one of the brilliant staff here who was using it (with humor) to illustrate the point that services shouldn’t be so prescriptive that they fail to recognize the individual as an individual. I found it funny and thought it got to the core of what often is the problem in how we build and deliver services. Homeless providers are, in fact, not factories and we can’t expect every person we serve to be the same or have the same goals.
  • The small program sizes and robust staffing structures.
  • The physical space and set-up of the buildings. Most of the buildings, including Creekside Foyer, are individual units, with some shared kitchen and community space.
  • The Pathway approach is roughly comparable to the Continuum of Care set-up in the US. However, the Pathway structure is smaller, more formalized in its set-up, and specific to an age range. I’m already excited about how we can use this model as a tool in the States – more to come on this.
  • Shared challenges. Our systems and funding mechanisms look different, but we share a lot of challenges: the transition between child services and adult services can be difficult, the level and quality of services varies depending on where you are and if that area has money, and data can be difficult to name a few.

On to week 2!

(On a non-Exchange related note, I had some very hands-on learning about the London train system on Thursday. Apparently there were massive signal problems which, coupled with some very well-meaning but wrong directions from a station worker, meant I had a very lengthy journey to Creekside. And on the way back all of the trains were cancelled.)

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