Each year, Anglicare awards a special fellowship which allows staff to travel to visit a project, attend a conference or participate in an internship or training course.
Community Services Worker Katrina Bester was awarded the Jerrim Fellowship for 2018 and recently returned from a trip to the USA where she attended their National Addiction Conference and visited three drug and alcohol treatment services that have high success rates.
“People I met over there were astounded when I told them about the Jerrim Fellowship,” said Ms Bester. “They were absolutely blown away that our professionalism was taken so seriously by Anglicare and that we were supported to bring back new knowledge to share”.
“One of the main things I looked at in the US treatment services was how they ensure there are no gaps in the care provided to people,” said Ms Bester. “A big difference is that detoxification is part of the whole treatment plan rather than being managed separately. And in talking to clients who’d received treatment under this model, they believed this had helped to save their life”.
In Australia, people are unable to access therapeutic treatment without first undertaking detox. This can be problematic due to limited facilities and long waiting times.
“The models I saw in the US really set people up to be able to succeed with treatment and then to sustain that change,” said Ms Bester.
At Elevate Addiction Services in Santa Cruz, California, Ms Bester saw that people were able to easily transition between detoxification and inpatient facilities. There were also ‘sober living’ houses for people returning to community life. “People had continued support to get to day treatment programs and get back into education or employment,” she said. “They were eased back into living independently”.
Ms Bester said the US services she visited promoted holistic treatment – which included physical, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing. “A big component was healthy nutrition and exercise, as well as exploring behavioural health – such as ways of communicating and relationships,” she said.
She said around 80% of staff at the US treatment facilities had lived experience of alcohol or other drug addiction. “The clients really like that,” she said. “They felt as though the staff really understood the challenges”.
Ms Bester will share what she learned with colleagues at Anglicare, as well as others working in alcohol and other drug services in the state’s community sector.“There is a whole lot of reform happening in the Alcohol and Other Drugs area in Tasmania, so the information I’ve gathered can contribute to that process,” she said.
Anglicare CEO Chris Jones said the Jerrim Fellowship was one example of how the organisation invested in its team. “As an Employer of Choice, we support professional development,” he said. “To provide excellent services, we need to keep learning and innovating”.
The Jerrim Fellowship is named after Bishop Henry Jerrim, the motivating force behind the establishment of Anglicare in 1983.