Delivering a Proven Treatment Model

The clinical treatment model used by the Iris Home, CHD’s newest intensive residential rehabilitation home for men in New Hartford, CT, is called Trauma Informed Positive Behavior Supports (TIPBS), a person-centered framework with strategies designed to increase quality of life of the individuals served and decrease behaviors that negatively impacts their lives. This model is also used at the Woodside House and Odyssey House, which are run by CHD’s AMH-Connecticut.

TIPBS involves collecting, reviewing, and analyzing behavioral data, and that is the role of CHD Psychiatric Behavioral Specialist Elijah Fialco. The model requires intensive documentation for staff, which is necessary for the optimum communication between those involved in the home’s day-to-day operations and the clinical team to make informed decisions based on thorough information from the direct care staff.

“I work a lot with the staff to make sure that communication is happening,” said Fialco. “I assist our consulting psychologist with assessments and the development of behavior plans, and I help support the managers and direct care staff in implementing the interventions from the treatment approach that we use.”

Fialco said that one of the challenges at the seven-bed Iris Home is housing residents with extremely different levels of needs, with some having long-term placement there and some having transitional placement.

“But I love that I get to be a part of doing something new with this treatment model,” said Fialco. “I think it has the potential to really improve the way we provide residential care.”

The goal of the Iris Home is to provide a safe, affirming space where residents can continue to learn skills and develop as individuals while having therapeutic support from staff. The residents have dual diagnoses of both mental illness and substance use disorder. These conditions occur together frequently—in general, about half of people who have a mental disorder will also have an addition at some point in their lives and vice versa.

In the past, Fialco has worked with other organizations that lacked a consistent treatment approach, so people with an extensive history of psychiatric hospitalizations had tended to get written off in terms what how much behavioral improvement was possible. “Here, we’re focused on what growth, improvement, and recovery can happen, even if it’s seemingly small—what positive change can be facilitated, instead of just focusing on preventing behaviors of concern,” said Fialco. “That’s really fulfilling to be a part of because it is really different than what most places are doing.”

Iris Home is still young (eight months old) and still developing, and Fialco is enthusiastic about having the opportunity to open a residential rehabilitation program with an operating treatment model already in place, rather than trying to fit the TIPBS model into a long-established program. Starting a program is never easy, “but I think Iris Home is starting to find its groove,” said Fialco.