Monday, July 7, 2008

gulp

Still won't let me add a picture...

I just looked online at some job stuff. There's two jobs available in Assertive Community Treatment. One at the location I did my practicum at, one at the other one. Oh how much I want those jobs. Either of them, I'd go for support worker or service coordinator. I'm qualified for both of them, but really only have enough experience for support worker, except I did a practicum there learning all about being a service coordinator. So, I don't know whether or not I want to apply. I mean, it can't hurt, right?

Here's why not though. I told my current job I'd be there at least a year, I like my current job, I'm building repore with staff and clients, I fit in etc... But, if I went back to the old PACT office, I'd already have a repore with staff and clients, and a longer relationship with them then I had with the clients I see now. It'd stop being a conflict of interest for my volunteer position too as I don't see nearly as many. Getting into PACT would have me doing government work, and I could do it for a long time. It'd look great on my MSW applications. And getting a service coordinator position...wow, it's be a "real" social work job and I'd actually make enough money to afford a car - which I would need for the position anyway. Which is unfortunate, I hate driving, I don't want to by a car.

I shouldn't have looked. I should have just left well enough alone. I'm happy now. Why change things? Why mess with something that works? I would like to work in assertive community treatment though. But I'm scared if I go back things won't look quite as rosey.

4 comments:

cb said...

They might not be as rosy but then again, they might be.
I'm in no position to advise but if I were in exactly the same position, I'd apply for the jobs. You have to retain your loyalty to yourself and your own best interest. Maybe I'm just a bit jaded though..

antiSWer said...

There's a wonderful quote that goes a lil' something like this: You'll regret the things you didn't do more than the things you did do.

I'm just sayin'!!! :p

Oh, and if you did a practicum there learning about how to be a service coordinator, you probably have more experience towards being one than you think. :)

bluejeansocialwork said...

I agree with the others--I think it's healthy to contemplate career evolution regularly. Even though I love my job, I check local social worker hiring opportunities often. I like to get a feel for what's out there, and I think it's beneficial to imagine oneself in different types of positions. It feeds self-development and reinvention--kind of liking being the Madonna of social work. Anyway, I say go for it.

Anonymous said...

A mental Health Consumer Provider’s experience working on two Programs of Assertive Community Treatment

After an accident I was disabled for five years. During this time I received Social Security Disability Income and counseling. I joined a club house in Newton Massachusetts for vocational counseling. After volunteering there I got a temporary employment placement. I did janitorial work on two days each week for two hour shifts at some group homes. On one night each week I attended a vocational support group to discuss issues related to the job. After this I found a part time telemarketing job. This independent employment was a step in the right direction. I had an excellent college education and had difficulty getting hired. I thought this could be related to having been disabled. Employers are careful in hireling people and this can exclude people who can do the job but have been unemployed. I was grateful that a program was available in my community to help disabled people get jobs. Being excluded from the work force creates a unique poverty of the soul. I vowed that someday I would help disabled people with finding jobs.

A year and six months into my recovery I got a residential counselor job working with individuals called mentally retarded. I slept overnight three nights. This was an excellent situation for someone with depression. I got off public assistance and was self supporting, productive and responsible member of society. After you worked for a year at the agency you were eligible for tuition reimbursement. I took advantage of this and enrolled in the U Mass Boston’s Rehabilitation Counseling program.

After taking one course a semester for a few years I moved into a therapeutic community where I worked as a counselor with mental health clients. Working in a supportive environment as a counselor and learning about mental health counseling helped me grow as a person and nurture the growth of people I worked with. I worked in this position and studied rehabilitation counseling for five years. After I earned a Masters in Counseling I got certified as a rehabilitation counselor.

Then I took a job with a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) in central Massachusetts. I was able to advocate for clients and help them with a lot of problems. I liked the fact that we did outreach and helped clients where ever they were. This type of work brought me to homeless shelters, schools, work places, hospitals, jails and client’s homes. The psychiatrist and staff were supportive. Because the program was associated with a University teaching and learning were emphasized. I received good performance reviews over my four years of employment. I handled numerous crisis situations effectively. I helped clients to find jobs.

After four years I was offered a better paying position at another PACT. I had twelve years experience and not one complaint on my record. I moved near to Malden take a position as a Vocational Counselor with a PACT in Malden at Tri-City Mental Health Center (TCMHC). The company was merging with Eliot Community Mental Health (ECMH). This was because TCMHC had committed fraud in billing Medicaid and the director of rehabilitation stole from clients. I understood that the company was in transition. I was confident in my ability to help clients and I knew I had a good work ethic and thought that would be enough to succeed. No one new I had a disability when I took the job. I had the experience of being on an effectively operated PACT. This experience was needed because the program had problems.

After taking the job I saw that clients were not getting services they needed with housing and employment. Clients needed help. Staff would say that clients were to “symptomatic” to benefit from help with these important issues. Staff treated clients in a condescending manner. I raised my concerns about client treatment with Aaron Katz the new program director. A Katz did not have the required credentials or experience to manage the program. This program was designed to serve the most disabled and vulnerable mental health consumers in the area. The response I got was “mind your own place and business”. I could see his approach to management was to bully subordinates, use intimidation and push people around. For example he and another manager would co supervise a counselor while A Katz sat at a computer taking notes like it was a disposition. You never knew what was being written. I asked if I could take notes during a meeting but was told this was not allowed. I do not respond well to this approach by a manager.

In my first month of employment I was asked to take a client to get a toxicology screen. The test results could get the client in legal trouble. I thought that this task was a bad idea for our first meeting. I found out latter this client had been charged with attempted murder. I was not told about his background but just to take him to get tested. I refused to do this. This is just one example of a number of problems where clients and staff were put at odds because of poor management. (Reports to DMH never told what was going on.) In a PACT program clients are often under court order to get treatment and have the program manage their money. The only way to be sure clients are not coerced and staff is acting ethically is for there to be effective communication between all staff and management. However this was not possible at the ECHS PACT all communication was one way. Aaron Katz gave orders and expected staff to obey his orders without question. It was as if the clients weren’t people but animals to be feed anti-psychotic medications. A Katz the program director would say “I have to micromanage everything”. If a team meeting was going on counselors were expected to raise there hand and ask permission to go to the bathroom. We were in team meetings ten hours a week.

The work place became hostile. I think it was because other staff saw that I advocated for clients in meetings and management felt threatened. I got the “you aren’t fitting in talk” from the manager. Then I got a written warning that threatened termination. This was for late paper work. Some of the paper work was the program directors (A Katz) responsibility. I explained that I had dyslexia and I asked for some extra time to complete the paper works. I advocated for my self and asked for the accommodations that I am entitled to under the American’s with Disabilities Act. Other than this minor issue I had demonstrated leadership in important matters. I helped client’s find jobs and housing. I managed crisis situations. My request for more time to do paper work was denied by a Katz.

Then after a client in crisis did not get help from management in a timely manner a blame game started. I had brought the client in crisis to meet the manager. I got blamed because this client who needed to be hospitalized ended up driving in Malden. This happened after I warned the manager that he needed help. A staff person from the day program was in his car. He could have crashed his car into someone. But I was blamed for this management neglect. I filed two grievances with the SEUI union. Management ignored them. I developed health problems as a result of the stress I was under. The management created a hostile work place. I even got treatment for job related stress. I let A Katz and M Mathews a senior manager know I was being treated for job related stress. The work place got more hostile. I requested time off but this was denied. Even though I had a doctors note as evidence that I had job related stress and both vacation and personal time.

Basically I was thrown out like the trash. The reason was because I advocated for clients, workers rights and would not accept unethical behavior by management. ECHS management contested my unemployment claim. At hearings M Mathews and Aaron Katz committed perjury. After four hearings the Massachusetts Department of Employment and Training found I had an urgent and compelling reason for ending the job. I was paid unemployment compensation. ECHS management also refused to pay me for my last two weeks work. I went to small claims court and named Pam Burns the Human Resources Director in my complaint. I had an excellent case but the hearing officer was a Malden court clerk named Paul Burns. Without considering the facts I lost my case.

Because of all this I lost my health insurance and couldn’t continue treatment. Now, I can not get a good job because I do not have a reference from my last employer. My health problems have not been treated. I am applying for Social Security Disability. I found management’s main interest was in misleading the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health about how the PACT was operated. Ethical issues were not to be discussed. Dishonesty and hostility were the foundations of management’s practice. They treat counselors like dogs and laugh at the SEUI union.

Signed,
Dog Meat