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Case Study: Leveraging Local Experts to Bring New Services to Beneficiaries with Mental Health Challenges

Case Study: Leveraging Local Experts to Bring New Services to Beneficiaries with Mental Health Challenges

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This case study originally appeared in the True Link Financial whitepaper: Trends and Innovations in the PSNT World.

The Golden State Pooled Trust (“GSPT”) serves beneficiaries throughout California with a variety of needs and life situations. Some of these individuals, especially those with mental and behavioral health needs, don’t always have extensive support systems in place. When looking for how to help connect these beneficiaries with the resources they needed, GSPT decided to explore how it could help its beneficiaries access existing local and regional resources. 

Leaning on local experts to enable more independence

Based in Northern California, for GSPT, this meant turning to agencies across California in the Independent Living and Supported Living Services (“ILS/SLS”) field. GSPT focused its outreach on regional agencies that help adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities establish and maintain safe, stable, and independent lives.

“We wanted to support our beneficiaries with mental and behavioral health challenges who needed some extra help but didn’t necessarily require a full-time social worker. GSPT (along with East Bay Innovations, Bayberry Inc., and Integrated Community Services) was involved in the creation of LifeTrust Care as a way to provide services, like case management, it didn’t have access to before. GSPT didn’t need to develop a completely new program; the resources already existed,” shared Stephen Dale, Trustee of GSPT. 

This has been especially valuable for beneficiaries with behavioral health issues, who traditionally cannot access ILS/SLS services in California. Under the LifeTrust Care program, these valuable services are now accessible to them, helping GSPT beneficiaries have a better quality of life.  

Staff from the ILS/SLS agencies help GSPT’s clients in many ways, but it all starts with gaining an understanding of their needs and living conditions. Once an ILS/SLS case manager has met with the beneficiary, they’re able to identify the ways they can train or assist this individual to gain more independence. Because the  ILS/SLS case managers are assigned regionally, they can meet with beneficiaries in their homes, allowing GSPT to gain additional insight into the needs of the people they work with, without having to travel hundreds of miles.  

“For some regional PSNTs, 90% of their beneficiaries live within an hour or so from their office, but in GSPT’s case, 99% of those we serve are far away from our office and spread out across the state,” said Dale. “Even if it was financially feasible for us to have full-time case managers, it wouldn’t make sense given our location.”

Some of the ways these professionals help GSPT’s beneficiaries include: 

  • Teaching them how to grocery shop and make simple meals;
  • Purchasing items with a True Link Visa Card and collecting receipts for GSPT;
  • Attending medical or dental appointments and serving as a patient advocate;
  • Accompanying them to the Social Security office and taking notes; and
  • Providing financial literacy to empower more informed decision-making. 

“It’s not only the experience of these professionals that’s valuable, but also their connections and network. We were having a hard time placing someone in Section 8 housing and kept running into roadblocks. Because the LifeTrust Care folks know how to advocate for this support and get in touch with the right people in their communities, they were able to bypass standard waiting periods and get the individual into housing,” Dale shared.

A mutually beneficial relationship

Beyond bringing valuable resources to beneficiaries, the LifeTrust Care model also benefits GSPT as an organization. By not needing to bring on full-time social workers or hire case managers, the trust can help beneficiaries access a higher quality of care with a limited budget. Additionally, by working with staff from these agencies, GSPT can be confident their beneficiaries are getting high-quality care from professionals who have been vetted and trained by their agencies. 

LifeTrust Care has also allowed GSPT to help beneficiaries with complex needs who require more hands-on support. “We want to be able to support anyone who needs us, but we believe that if a PSNT can’t serve someone effectively, it shouldn’t take their case on,” Dale emphasized. With LifeTrust Care, GSPT has been able to serve individuals they might have had to turn down without these resources. 

This sort of relationship not only benefits the beneficiary and the PSNT, but also the agency and the broader community of people with disabilities that it serves. “These agencies and services are often underfunded programs that struggle to stay afloat. By providing an additional income stream, we’re able to help support their essential work in the community beyond our own beneficiaries,” Dale shared.  

Ultimately, while resources for ILS/SLS vary from state to state, GSPT’s success with LifeTrust Care can act as a model for other PSNTs across the country. As Dale said, “This is a model that’s worked effectively for our trust, and I’d encourage other PSNTs to see if there are local partners they could work with in a similar way.”

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