What is the REAL Program?

Recovery, Empowerment, Advocacy, Linkage

 

The goal of the REAL Team is to engage members of the community who are at risk for encounters with law enforcement and first responders. That means WSTC’s Team members go out into the field (homeless camps, for example), make connections with this population, provide an initial assessment to determine needs, link individuals with services, and continue to empower and advocate for them as they work toward recovery.

The REAL Team plans their outreach strategy
The REAL Team plans their outreach strategy

What Has the Team Done So Far?

In the few months since starting this program, the REAL Team has engaged with dozens of Kitsap County individuals in high risk situations and has been able to help many of them to escape dangerous living circumstances. They have taken participants to crisis triage, moved them out of human trafficking situations and into safe housing, transported them to shelters, and brought them to treatment. They have distributed naloxone, a medication that prevents an opioid overdose from becoming a fatality, and they have provided hand warmers, sleeping bags, water, snacks, hygiene supplies and more to show good faith and build trust while meeting immediate physical needs. The Team has also helped individuals obtain supplies for infants and young children.
The Team gathers supplies before leaving for outreach
The Team gathers supplies before leaving for outreach
From Left to Right: Camden Suhay - Care Manager; Michelle Vargo - Peer Recovery Coach; Lindsay Devitt - Peer Recovery Coach
From Left to Right: Camden Suhay - Care Manager; Michelle Vargo - Peer Recovery Coach; Lindsay Devitt - Peer Recovery Coach

REAL Program services are individualized based on the needs of the participant. Services may include:

  • Brief well-being screenings

  • Referral services

  • Needs assessments

  • Connections to services

  • Warm handoffs to treatment recovery support services

  • Long-term outreach support

  • Intensive care management

  • Development of individual intervention plan

  • Recovery coaching

  • Recovery support services

REAL Team members study a map of the county as they plan their day's outreach routes
REAL Team members study a map of the county as they plan their day's outreach routes
Many of the participants have co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health conditions. These individuals need extra support and advocacy to access care and services. For example, a lack of coordination for care at the emergency department may result in a person being discharged to the street again after a physical health need is addressed, rather than their mental health being addressed once their physical health is stable. The REAL Team has stayed with participants at the ER to ensure that, after they received care, they had someone to take them to their next needed service.