Facey Medical Group has partnered with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) to launch a three-year program at its Mission Hills clinic designed to provide additional resources and improve treatment outcomes for older adults who have been diagnosed with depression. Funded by a $375,000 grant from the Archstone Foundation, the new Senior Strength Initiative will assist primary care physicians and behavioral health specialists at the Facey clinic by adding two certified peer community workers to the patient care team.
Peer community workers are increasingly being viewed as a valuable component of treating depression in older adults, due to the fact that they are people from the community who usually share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences with the community members they serve. More importantly, they have personally experienced the behavioral health treatment journey themselves and can use that experience to help others who are undergoing treatment.
Facey Medical Group is an affiliate of Providence Health & Services and its Mission Hills location is one of six clinics in the Providence system working to integrate behavioral health specialists into the primary care setting. Providence leadership selected Facey’s clinic as the pilot site for peer community workers in part because of the clinic staff’s eagerness to employ peer support services, as well as ethnic diversity of the patient population served. In 2017, seniors age 65 and older accounted for 29 percent of all primary care visits at the clinic. Facey physicians currently treat about 5,800 Medicare patients at the location. The team at Facey hopes to touch at least 250 lives over the project’s three-year duration.
“The Senior Strength Initiative is an important step toward building a better safety net for adults living with depression,” says Karen Rentas, Ph.D., the clinical psychologist leading Facey’s integration of primary care and behavioral health services. “Individuals who have themselves experienced mental health challenges can support others in their community with a unique perspective that is grounding and real. They’ve tapped into resources, they know what worked and what didn’t, and they can empathize in a way that’s meaningful.”
Dr. Rentas is one of the many at Facey who believe peer community workers will be a powerful tool in the battle with age-related depression, and one that the doctors at Facey will readily embrace in their practice. She’s optimistic the Senior Strength Initiative also will have an impact in other clinics within the Providence health system once data on its effectiveness begin to roll in. The groundwork for integrating of primary care and behavioral health already has been laid at six Providence primary care clinics thanks to a grant from the Well Being Trust, and Providence is planning to continue funding the pilot after those funds expire in summer 2019.
“Fighting depression requires a comprehensive strategy,” says Dr. Rentas. “Your primary doctor can’t help you do it on their own. We’re in a unique position because we’ve had therapists right across the hall from internists for years, but that doesn’t mean we are all treating the whole person, together. Intentional, integrated care can make a huge difference and we’re working ensure our patients receive better care with the help of peer community workers. We have to take care beyond our own walls if we want to close gaps in care and help our patients build therapeutic relationships that increase their self-esteem and confidence.”
Later this year DBSA, along with Dr. Rentas, will train the Facey clinic staff on the value of peer community workers as part of a patient’s care team and provide wellness tools for use with patients. The peer community workers are scheduled to join the team at Facey in September 2018 and will then begin actively working with patients in their homes and community. They also will assist with patient outreach and education efforts.
About Facey Medical Group
Facey Medical Group is a multispecialty physician group which operates ten clinics in Northern Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Originally founded in 1923, Facey’s 208 physicians and their support staff care for the 178,000 patients who visit Facey clinics each year. From 2009 through 2017, readers of both the Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Clarita Signal voted Facey the best medical group in the region. Facey is also recognized by California Association of Physician Groups as one of twenty “Elite Performer” medical groups in Southern California. In 2015 the Integrated Healthcare Association recognized Facey as one of 12 physician groups in their statewide Excellence in Healthcare program and in 2017 Facey was recognized as Most Improved.
About Providence Health & Services
Providence Health & Services, Southern California, is a Catholic not-for-profit, mission-driven healthcare system. Providence Southern California operates six award-winning hospitals and a comprehensive, fully-integrated network of primary care clinics, urgent care centers, home care, TrinityCare and TrinityKids Care hospice as well as Providence High School. Providence is anchored locally by Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Providence Tarzana Medical Center and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in Torrance and San Pedro. With more than 3,400 physicians, Providence provides coordinated primary and specialty care through an array of physician groups and individual providers including Providence Medical Institute and physician groups in the South Bay, the West Valley and Santa Clarita. Providence affiliate, Facey Medical Group, provides primary and specialized care in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys and Simi Valley. For more information, visit providence.org.
About Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
DBSA is the leading peer-directed national organization focusing on the two most prevalent mental health conditions, depression and bipolar disorder. Through nearly 650 peer-led support groups, educational resources, and nationally-acclaimed peer specialist training, DBSA reaches millions of people each year with tools, in-person and online peer support focused on an integrated approach to wellness.
About Archstone Foundation
Established in 1986, Archstone Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation whose mission is to prepare society for the growing needs of an aging society. Under the leadership of president and CEO Joseph F. Prevratil, J.D., Archstone grants up to $5 million annually, primarily in Southern California.
The Senior Strength Initiative is part of the Care Partners: Bridging Families, Clinics, and Communities to Advance Late-Life Depression Care cohort of projects supported by Archstone Foundation. Care Partners seeks to improve care for older adults with depression by strengthening the involvement of family, friends, and community-based organizations (CBOs) in depression care. Training, technical assistance, and initiative-wide evaluation for Care Partners is provided by the University of Washington’s AIMS Center (Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions) and the University of California, Davis.