Last summer Service Program for Older People (SPOP) celebrated the first graduation from its PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) program. The PROS program at SPOP started October 1, 2013 as the successor program to a long-standing Continuing Day Treatment Program. It is the only PROS program in New York State exclusively for age 55 and older and provides life skills training and support to adults with serious and persistent mental illness. PROS focuses on recovery and integration into the community, and participants work with recovery counselors to establish life role goals and identify the barriers that have prevented them from meeting those goals. The program serves over 70 adults annually.
José, age 81, is a long-time member of the SPOP community and was enrolled for nearly six years in its Continuing Day Treatment Program following a hospitalization for Bipolar I Disorder. He is widowed, lives in a supportive residence and works part-time at McDonald’s. José speaks some English but is most comfortable communicating in his native Spanish.
When he first came to the Continuing Day Treatment Program, José was assigned a bilingual social worker and enjoyed socializing with other Spanish-speaking clients. However, his language limitations made it difficult for him to participate fully in groups. He enrolled in the PROS program in 2013 and immediately responded to the new concepts of recovery, goals and strategies for overcoming barriers. He was also able to register for Spanish-language groups where he became an active participant in discussions.
Working with his recovery counselor, Ashley Zayas, LMSW, José established a life role goal of improving his relationships with his two sons, who live in California and South America and whom he had not seen for many years. He initiated more regular telephone contact and when he learned about the upcoming wedding of one son, he set a goal of attending the celebration in Peru. He set aside savings from his job and succeeded in traveling for a three-week visit with his family over the summer.
Upon his return to New York, José met with Ashley to review his progress toward meeting the life role goals he had established nine months earlier. During his time at PROS he had gone from very occasional contact with his sons to twice-weekly telephone conversations with each of them. He had increased his work schedule from 8 hours a week to 28 hours. He had saved money and had visited his family. His self-confidence had improved and his symptoms were under control. In light of these achievements, he and Ashley agreed that he no longer needed PROS and was ready to transition to the SPOP clinic.
On July 15 the entire PROS community gathered to celebrate José’s graduation and to wish him well. PROS Director Robert Franco presented José with a PROS “diploma” and congratulated him on his great success in setting life role goals, overcoming barriers, thriving in his job, and reuniting with his family.