Renaissance Wellness aims to help more families through intensive in-home services

Posted 10/20/21

Renaissance Wellness Services has had quite the year.

The clinic — with Chatham offices in Pittsboro and Siler City — opened its Siler City office earlier this year and expanded its …

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Renaissance Wellness aims to help more families through intensive in-home services

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Renaissance Wellness Services has had quite the year.

The clinic — with Chatham offices in Pittsboro and Siler City — opened its Siler City office earlier this year and expanded its school-based therapy services with Chatham County Schools. As of February, Renaissance also launched what owner Karen Barbee says is a much-needed option for families — intensive in-home services.

Intensive in-homes services encompass a range of home-based mental health interventions designed to offer crisis management, intensive case management plus counseling and therapy to children and families.

“There are some other agencies that do provide the service, but this is something that we are able to specifically provide in Chatham County,” said Barbee, who is also the clinic’s clinical director.

“One thing that I saw in Chatham was that there was a need,” she said. “We were already in the schools, providing the school-based therapy, and we would have all of these referrals for kids that were just needing more than what we could give them.”

The service is meant to help children and adolescents who need more than typical outpatient treatment, which usually entails a one-hour visit per week. This could include situations like truancy, reported trauma, serious behavioral issues at school or when social services are involved. The team works to help keep children in the home, or work toward reunification with parents if a child is in foster care. Intensive in-home therapy can entail up to three to four visits per week, provided by a team which meets with the family and child throughout the week.

In Chatham, Daymark Recovery Services in Siler City also offers intensive in-home services, and like Renaissance, offers bilingual services to Spanish-speaking families. Other clinics in the Triangle also offer the service; it’s not a question of whether the service was already being provided, Barbee said, but how Renaissance could help reduce the need she was seeing in Chatham.

“We have Daymark here and I think one other agency that does that as well. But you’re still kind of limited, right? After they fill up, they’re full,” Barbee said, adding that she had heard of waiting lists from clinics in neighboring counties that service Chatham of up to four to six months.

“And so at that point, I was thinking, ‘OK, we need to try to do something, because this is not working,’” she said. “This just doesn’t make sense that there’s such a need, but only these handful of agencies are able to provide it.”

Renaissance currently has one team to provide intensive in-home services, with 12 clients. Due to the higher needs of kids using these services, the state caps teams at 12 clients, so Barbee is currently in the process of hiring enough staff to start a second team.

Referrals for intensive services often come from the child’s school, but can be made on Renaissance’s website.

Relationship building is crucial to the service, Barbee said, since families are often anxious about someone coming to their homes several times a week.

“This service provides more than just outpatient therapy with a therapist, a lot of times these kids need case management,” she said. “They need someone that can reach out to other stakeholders, help them help the parents connect with other resources. And this is most helpful because we know that if they didn’t have that, you just have kids and families in the situation where they wouldn’t know who to go to, or how to get the help for their child.”

Without such strong connections, families are less likely to trust the therapy team and reach out to them if they feel like their children are going into crisis.

The interaction of families, coupled with continued referrals, speaks to the effectiveness of the service, Barbee said. Since launching the program, she said the need hasn’t slowed down — something she attributes to the pandemic and the stresses that come from being at home for a year.

Renaissance wants to grow its intensive in-home services to help more Chatham families through such specific referrals and targeted types of intervention.

“That’s probably one of the top benefits of intensive in-home,” she said, “and then obviously, for Chatham County, being such a rural county, you have some families that live in areas where if someone didn’t come to them to help get those needs met, they wouldn’t be able to get that type of help.”

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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