Individualized Care

AmeriCorps member Wesley Ha provides 1-on-1 counseling for client

What is a medication? Providers prescribe medications in hopes of alleviating or treating illnesses. In mental health, some commonly prescribed antipsychotics include Seroquel and Risperidone. Common side effects of such drugs are dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. So if pharmacologic interventions have been proven to address chemical causes of behavioral health concerns, then prescription drugs should cure illness, right? Wrong. Although I have used the example of psychotropic medications, this example can be applied to a great many concerns. Illness is not one dimensional. Diet, lifestyle, social environment, domestic environment, career, socioeconomic factors, and so many more elements affect an individual's health. A child diagnosed with DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) criteria meeting disorders such as Bipolar I can be prescribed psychotropic medications, but if he or she is continuously exposed to stress from a toxic home environment, no medication can remedy the consequences of such factors. So what is the alternative? This is where individualized care comes in.

As a National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps member at Clay Behavioral Health, I teach health education to my clients. No two clients are the same, and although some may express similar needs, the way care is delivered has to be tailored to each client so that they can benefit best from our time together. Initially, it was suggested that I put effort into holding a class with a capacity of about 15 clients once a week. This has changed to multiple classes spread throughout the week for small groups or individual clients. Not everyone in the class will benefit from a course on the pathophysiology of coronary artery disease, not everyone will learn at the same pace, and needs that need to be addressed are specific and distinct to each client. Every client is interviewed extensively, and by relating to them, a relationship of trust is built. A great deal of time is dedicated to getting to know each client in order to understand their background, their challenges, and their needs. For some clients, transportation is a major obstacle to accessing care. Others have sincere desires to address their health concerns, but they are homeless. By working together with caseworkers and providers, housing, transportation, and other needs are met for clients at the clinic.

Individualized care is taking into consideration the entire human experience when addressing illness. Individualized care is understanding that everyone is different, they have their own stories, and in order to truly help them, we should do our best to understand their experience. Individualized care may also mean making necessary partnerships with health professionals, social workers, and professionals in various fields, such as law, that may be able to address concerns of the patient. This effort requires patience. This effort requires commitment. Most of all, individualized care means a commitment to the patient; that my ultimate objective at the end of the day is to serve their needs as best as I can to help them achieve better health.

National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps member Wesley Ha teaches class on pulmonary disease








This blog post was written by NHC FL member, Wesley Ha.

Wesley serves at Clay Behavioral Health Center as a Care Coordinator.