Trauma-Informed Care is central to way supports are coordinated in
People with disabilities experience more abuse than others, yet their needs often go undertreated or minimized. That means the trauma continues to have an impact on their lives years after the abuse occurred.
The BHN Alliance understands the role trauma plays in the lives of many of the people it supports. That is why it adopted a Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) approach in 2016. Darlene Pempek, Director of Community Supports, led the effort. In her work with families, Dar realized that the immediate crisis or distress someone was experiencing had underlying circumstances.
“As we got to know people, we learned that past traumatic experiences were still impacting them,” Pempek said. “Those lived experiences had to be taken into account for people to become well.”
Trauma-Informed Care requires a system-wide understanding of trauma. The three county boards in the Alliance offered full support for this way of serving people with disabilities. The goal at the beginning was to make sure supports took into account how past traumas impacted children and adults.
Pempek attended trauma trainings and returned with strategies for the BHN Alliance SSAs, who began including TIC approaches to the supports they were coordinating. It made a huge difference. Once a person’s past trauma was identified, it became easier to identify the types of supports that would not only be effective, but would also make the person feel safe so they could heal and thrive.
In June 2016, the BHN Alliance was invited to join Tristate Trauma Network’s Trauma-Informed Learning Community. Pempek, Director of Transition Adam Nicholoff, SSA Corianne Sanders and Communications Coordinator Pamela McCort participated in the Learning Community where leading trauma experts provided training and support over the course of a year.
SSA Corianne Sanders said the training had an impact on her.
“I realize that everyone can be affected by trauma in some way. This knowledge allows me to be more intentional in my interactions with others, which makes me a better person and a better SSA,” Sanders said.
The core implementation team now directs activities designed to create an educated and informed workforce. Trainings by Mary Vicario and Carol Hudgins-Mitchell Finding Hope Consulting have taken place. A Belmont CommUNITY was created, comprised of partners from several agencies who regularly meet to discuss ways they can become more compassionate and understanding in the work they do. Trainings on trauma-informed care are offered by the BHN Alliance TIC Core Implementation Team and been provided to local law enforcement, the staff at a local hospital and public school.
“The effects of trauma continue long after the traumatic experience has occurred and that is why it is important for all of us in the system of support to treat people with compassion,” Pempek said.
“Healing, resiliency and hope are possible for children and adults when trauma-informed care is practiced by everyone.”