Decision to endorse a client’s appeal for independent housing.

Having to endorse a client’s appeal for independent housing is something a social worker will no doubt come across throughout their careers. This is especially common in adults who have mental health issues. Often times they have difficulty functioning on a daily basis in the community because of having to learn how to manage their mental health on top of daily living. Depending on the severity of their diagnosis and symptoms, getting through the day can be overwhelming.

Assessing Everyday Activity

Having to manage mental health in addition to daily living can create additional stressors and interfere with everyday life. Being able to find supportive housing with services built in to aid in managing self sufficiency can help create an easier life for a person who is living with mental health issues. Sometimes the decision to endorse or not to endorse is an easy one – but other times the decision is less obvious. One example would be if an individual hasn’t lived on their own for a long time. Some reasons range from long term inpatient hospitalization, or having lived in a community residence. In either case if the individual has not been able to hone their daily living skills than they will have a more difficult time transitioning back into society.

Sometimes the decision to endorse or not to endorse is an easy one – but other times the decision is less obvious. Times when it is not obvious is when the person’s only option for a living situation is going back to their old environment where there are dangers to their recovery such as drug use or gang affiliations. These dilemmas are called triggers to recovery and can have a massive impact in determining if the individual will be successful or not.

To endorse or not to endorse…. Here are some ways to help guide your decision.

Various types of housing for people who have mental illness can be explored between client and social worker and when applicable assist them in applying for one or more levels of housing.  It’s important for the social worker to be familiar with what housing resources are available in their area of service. An example of types of supportive housing can be found on the Nami website.

Take Measure of the Client’s Current Environment

In working with a client who wants to live independently, it is important to look at their daily living activities to assess their current level of functioning.

  • For clients currently in a residential setting

    The client is presumably with staff monitoring them on a daily basis, so it can be easy to assess what the client is capable of doing based on the reports completed by the residential staff. Conduct interviews with the staff and seek relevant opinions.

  • For clients coming from a hospital setting

    When medical needs are present, it is important to contact the nursing staff of the unit as well as the hospital social worker and case manager to inquire about level of functionality.

  • For clients coming from a home environment

    If the client is coming from living with family, getting feedback from the family members of how the client lived on a daily basis can provide baseline insights.

Make the Decision That Sets Your Client Up For Success

When appealing for a client’s request to live in an independent setting, it is always important to empower and encourage the client to work hard at being independent. As social workers, it’s our duty to guide the client and ensure that we are setting them up for success. Going over the various types of supportive housing and what services are offered at each level can help ease their minds and decrease anxiety when going through the process of finding a place to live.

Options could include things like:

  • Going into a community residence with a group of peers (some independence, but has staff to monitor as necessary)
  • Supportive housing where the individual would have a roommate (more independence)
  • Supported housing where the individual would live by themselves (most independent)

Once outlining what options are available, work with the client to develop  a plan of action regarding which housing program will best match their needs and preparing the client for what they will be going through, will help with transition.

As always, it’s important to consider that we should be available to support the client whether they fail or are successful and make sure that consequential thinking is utilized by the client to aid them in their journey towards self sufficiency.

Provided by contributing expert, Chris Parfett, MSW:

Contributing expert Chris Parfett, MSW is a social worker with over 15 years of experience working with numerous populations including DD, adults with mental health issues, substance abuse with adolescents and adults, child, adult and adolescent psychiatric inpatient. Chris is currently a Care Manager at Bergen’s Promise in Bergen County NJ.