Musings on Hope, Staff Training and Person-First Philosophy

September 30, 2016


Bournewood Health Systems is moving forward and reinforcing our commitment to our mission: providing quality, evidence-based and person-centered treatment for people with mental health and substance use conditions in a safe and respectful environment in partnership with the individuals and families we serve, focusing on support, hope and recovery. 


Staff development and training is one of Bournewood’s core values, and we are dedicated to investing in our employees and our clinical programs. This month, 55 clinical and management staff will be trained in the Six Core Strategies© (6CS), a treatment approach model. It was established by the National Technical Assistance Center of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) to support and promote person-first treatment for children, youth and adults admitted to inpatient behavioral health settings like Bournewood.


The evidence supports the use of these six strategies with individuals in a variety of behavioral health settings across the scope of common diagnoses including oppositional-defiant disorders, developmental, learning and autistic spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, the schizophrenia spectrum disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, the range of depression disorders with a large number of substance abuse and medical co-morbidities.  As its foundation, the 6CS relies upon the principles of trauma-informed and person centered care, an organizational culture of safety, continuous quality improvement and leadership committed to these strategies and principles.


The 6CS has promoted excellence in hospitals worldwide and will provide Bournewood with a clear framework from which to build upon our strong history of providing effective, safe and compassionate care.


The Six Core Strategies and what they mean are:

  1. Leadership Toward Organizational Change. This strategy calls for hospital leadership to clearly communicate the vision, mission and values and is committed to ensuring there is a plan in place to maintain a safe and therapeutic environment of care for patients, staff and families. Also key to this strategy is to use data to engage in continuous quality improvement.

  2. Use of Data to Inform Practice. Policies, procedures and systems require continuous collection and evaluation of data in order for a hospital to assess its progress towards identified goals.

  3. Workforce Development. Education and training are key to ensuring that staff understands the principles of recovery, trauma and illness and emotional management, giving staff effective de-escalation skills and debriefing skills.

  4. Full Inclusion of Individuals and Families. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health highlighted the need for and benefit from greater inclusion of consumers and their families in the treatment process with a focus on self-determination and a formal role in informing hospital operations.

  5. Use of Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Tools. Specific use of a universal trauma assessment tool, environmental considerations such as comfort and sensory rooms, sensory modulation interventions and other activities help develop emotional self-management and trauma-informed care.

  6. Rigorous Debriefing post events with follow-up. This important strategy provides an opportunity to reflect on the events that led to clinical interventions and to identify coping strategies and behaviors that can be used in the future. The opportunity for staff to express thoughts and reactions and discuss future strategies is critical to excellent care and treatment.

We are very proud that Bournewood has a strong foundation of clinical care and I am pleased to say that we already incorporate many the six strategies. The two-day 6CS training in mid-October will only strengthen this foundation by providing a clearly defined and articulated paradigm from which to deliver state-of-the-art care.


At Bournewood, we never stop improving what we do on behalf of the adults and adolescents who come to us to recover as we help them continue on with hope and dignity.

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