CARES State Hospital

New Orientation Training

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) conducts New Staff Orientations (NSO) twice monthly at the State Hospitals within Georgia.
The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse has been contracted to recruit and select CARES to share their lived experience at 144 DBHDD: New Staff Orientation sessions at 4 state-operated psychiatric hospitals.
These orientations are designed in part to address prior deficiencies and concerns raised by a series of Federal Court rulings and Federal Government interventions, including The Olmstead Act, The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that have significantly changed the way Georgia State Hospitals provide services to the individuals in their care. 
In response to these interventions, DBHDD has developed a curriculum for new staff orientations that includes an emphasis on recovery, person-centered care, and treating individuals in their care with respect and dignity.
Beginning in July of 2013, the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse has had CARES share their lived experiences at 4 state-operated psychiatric hospitals, including Atlanta Regional Hospital, East Central Regional Hospital, West Central Regional Hospital, and Georgia Regional Hospital Savannah.
CARES are uniquely qualified to speak and participate in these sessions because they provide invaluable “lived experience” and the ability to share an approach that meets individuals where they “are”, includes them in their own recovery process, and respects and supports all pathways to recovery. CARES receive NSO message training as well as feedback from GCSA staff attending their presentations. CARES are encouraged to take ownership of their presentations and speak in their own voice.
All new hospital staff attend the NSOs, including direct staff, such as nurses and health service technicians, as well as support staff, such as food service and administration. For many of the staff, the CARES presentation may be their first exposure to individuals in long-term recovery. Positive feedback from the NSO sessions indicates that the employees appreciate and benefit from the CARES presentation, and that the presentations have offered a new perspective on substance use disorder that helps them prepare for their upcoming duties in the hospital.