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How to Open an Alternative Mental Health Facility
ALTERNATIVE MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY PROGRAM
PURPOSE 1: To establish a place where people with severe mental symptoms can rest and recover, without physical or mental abuse, shock, or the unnecessary administration of drugs.
PURPOSE 2: To establish the standard procedures for the successful, safe handling and helping of people with severe mental symptoms.
PURPOSE 3: To make these procedures known so others can successfully and safely help those with severe mental symptoms
To fully research the legal requirements of a facility in the state/province you are in.To fully research the technical requirements of a facility.To fully research the organizational requirements of a facility.To build/buy/lease an appropriate and qualified facility.To establish a functioning, successful facility with workable procedures.
1. Find out the legal requirements for operating a place. First thing to do is find out what category of facility it falls under. A simple type is the board and care boarding home or adult residential facility which is a simple residential facility for people who need assistance in living. NOTE: Laws normally do not permit acutely psychotic individuals (dangerous to self or others) to be in anything but a psychiatric facility. Most licensing information is available by contacting the state office of mental health and asking to talk to someone in charge of facility licensing. That person can explain the requirements for a board and care.
2. Find what it takes to be properly licensed and certified (per No. 1 above). In most areas the facility needs to be licensed but in some areas the administrator must be as well.
3. For a board and care doctors or nurses are not needed. If you want a facility beyond that, see if need doctors on staff. Does it need to be a psychiatrist? Does he need to be on premises?
4. Put in writing the basic procedures that will be used for helping clients with severe mental symptoms.
5. Work up criteria on who is eligible for the facility and who isn't.
6. Sort out legal structure: Corporation? Non-profit? Etc.
7. Find out the requirements to get payments from insurance companies. Such payments are not likely under current insurance systems.
8. Study current similar places (such as Earth House in New Jersey or boarding homes) for workable housing method.
9. If building a structure, work up the most efficient building structure and how to organize buildings. If buying/leasing, look for building that allows efficient use of space for housing, kitchen, office, etc.
10. Allow space for clients to make noise, sports, etc.
11. Make full list of all requirements from all agencies. Requirements cover a) the building, b) staffing, c) operation, and d) administration of the program. This will include a list of all health and safety codes it must meet for its purpose. This will include kitchen standards, hygiene of living quarters, amt. of residential space needed per person, access to doctors, compliance with regulations re: infectious diseases, etc.; fire prevention equipment, fire doors, access to exits, exterior
staircases, maximum occupants, etc.
12. Write up a simple organization plan showing who does what and who is in charge of whom.
13. Write up the duties of each job, such as kitchen help, administrator, etc.
14. Liability Insurance (get prices and data; purchase it when ready to start operations).
15. Workman's comp (get prices and data; purchase it when ready to start operations).
16. Figure out how much it will cost to run the place and work out a basic weekly budget.
17. Figure out a pricing structure, that is, how much will you charge to stay at the facility? (as an example, Earth House has a fee structure that shows how they charge for extras like haircuts.)
18. Work up a program to get funding for its opening. Look into govt. funding. Possibly hire a fundraiser. Actual fundraising should begin when you have firm idea of type of bldg. needed, its cost, and exactly how program will be run.
19. Work out how to train new staff.
20. Create a promotional program to attract clients.
21. Work up list of referral sources - i.e. who can refer clients to you.
22. Create an info sheet on new people coming in for screening/background data.
23. Have educational materials for family members or others who need to take care of the client.
24. Have list of alternate places for people who cannot be accepted as clients.
25. Work up some kind of counseling or handling for family. See #23 above.
26. Need policy on visitors (who can and can't visit, to keep away disturbing elements).
27. Work up a list of promotional actions to bring in clients and make facility well known.
28. If building a structure: Design building(s). Can model after workable similar buildings, such as Earth House, resorts, drug rehabs, hotels, rest homes.
29. Ensure area zoned for type of facility you have in mind. Can get this info from city or town govt.
30. Ensure bldg. meets safety, fire, and bldg. codes.
31. Ensure building is affordable. (One drug rehab facility has a policy of not spending more than 17% of expected income on buying/leasing.)
32. Work up a furnishing plan for bldg and residences appropriate to clientele. Note: white, gray, or pale green gives a hospital look. Want cheerful, solid, easy-to-understand environment.
33. Work up a list of recreation and gardening activities that can be done plus how to place them in the facility.
34. Have a grand opening appropriate to the facility. May forego this to maintain calm atmosphere and dignity of the facility. Use judgment.
35. Possibly write several booklets on the facility and what you are doing.
36. Work out public relations programs before opening the facility on your place with neighbors, the community, local new media, etc.
37. Work up a program for delivering lectures in community, and to get the word out about what you are doing
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