Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health


Name of Innovative Program: 
The HOPE Program
Sponsoring Organization
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Gary Schoenberg
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
COMHAR's HOPE Program is an innovative Community Integrated Recovery Center (CIRC) that addresses the needs of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse disorders.  It offers a holistic approach that operates within the guidelines of a Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Outpatient license. Services are provided by a multidimensional team comprised of psychiatrists, certified peer specialists, recovery counselors/coaches, nurses, recovery-oriented clinical supervisors, clinicians, etc.HOPE was designed by involving the Person in Recovery (PIR), family and community affiliations.  HOPE stands for, “Helping Opportunities for People’s Empowerment”. The model enriches the lives of those individuals served through a multitude of choices which assists the individual to flourish independently in living, learning, socializing, and working.  HOPE accomplishes this by focusing on and emphasizing the following 4 pillars: Peer Leadership/Peer Culture (shared decision making and role modeling), Family Inclusion, Community Integration (e.g., supported employment/volunteerism/education, linkage with the community), and Recovery Planning.
Creativity and Innovation: 
The HOPE program uses a number of approaches that access the inner resources and strengths of each participant.  Through a variety of means, the talents, skills, and abilities of each PIR are cultivated.  These include a variety of wellness modalities such as therapeutic massage, Reiki, Pranic Healing, meditation, and story telling,  Through enhancing and strengthening the whole person, the HOPE program provides the vital supports needed for each individual to more effectively accomplish his/her recovery goals. Through the utilization of a professional artist consultant, PIR’s are able to develop their artistic talents. This includes the displaying of one’s art in a gallery where each person’s unique self expression of their recovery can be seen and appreciated by others.   Furthermore, participants share their experiences via a newsletter that provides a forum for written self expression.  Participants of the Newsletter Group write about their activities in the community, their day to day lives, their testimonies, their celebrations, etc.
The HOPE program has demonstrated leadership both within COMHAR and outside.  Representatives from the HOPE program have presented at the statewide PAPSRS conference during the past 3 years on this innovative model.  Presentations have included the following topics:: “Together we Can” addressed the holistic approach of the CIRC model; “Peers as Leaders” addressed the element of peer support and peer culture; “Meditation as a significant healing tool for recovery” addressed the benefits of meditation to help and support individuals in their recovery; a presentation on the “CIRC Learning Collaborative” – addressed the collaboration of over 10 CIRC programs within the City of Philadelphia who work together to advance the CIRC model. The peers in the HOPE program participate in a peer government where leadership is emulated throughout the various components of the program via a steering committee comprised of stakeholders which helps to maintain and enhance the mission and vision of the CIRC.
The HOPE program transformed from a partial hospital program in 2007 with the help and support of DBH/IDS and CBH who provides funding and OMHSAS who provides licensing. HOPE is part of a learning collaborative comprised of 13 organizations who partner with DBH/IDS, CBH, OVR and OMHSAS. These relationships help to navigate regulations, obtain guidance, and seek support towards the sustainability of the CIRC model.  The services provided via this model are reimbursable through Medicaid dollars via CBH, the MCO.   In addition, pay for performance benchmarks have been identified which further strengthen the viability of this model.  The HOPE program has achieved the highest category of pay for performance within the past 2 years bringing additional revenue into the COMHAR organization.   
The HOPE program utilizes evidence based practices promoted by SAMHSA for individuals with severe mental illness and co-occurring disorders. These practices include Illness Management and Recovery, Supported Employment, WRAP, and Trauma informed approaches.   Furthermore, the CIRC model was developed in collaboration with Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities Services (DBH/IDS) and CBH.  The CIRC Guidebook infused by the DBH Practice Guidelines provides clear guidelines for the development/readiness of a CIRC program, admission criteria, documentation, crisis planning, discharge/graduation, program monitoring and evaluation, etc. Furthermore the Guidebook addresses the 4 pillars of the CIRC model that includes, Peer Leadership/Peer Culture, Family Inclusion, Community Integration, and Recovery Planning.Benchmarks have been established by DBH/IDS that address site based and in-community units of service, contact hours per participant, length of contact, inpatient and CRC utilization, etc.
The development of the HOPE program has had a positive impact on the lives of the individuals who participate in these services.  This is evidenced by significantly higher ratings on the Community Participation Scale, Quality of Life and Recovery Assessment Scale following program enrollment.  PIR’s have become more independent through travel training and the use of public transportation.  There is a decrease in utilization of inpatient hospitalization and CRC’s. The CIRC is changing the image of the PIR and busting the stigma of Mental Illness. He or she is more than “just a diagnosis”.  These markers lend to the HOPE program’s successful graduation rate. Furthermore, the HOPE program has a community based component that provides outreach services to older adults with an emphasis on the Latino population in local senior centers by a bilingual/bicultural recovery counselor.   Outcome data has demonstrated a reduction in symptoms of depression by over 50% of those individuals surveyed using the Geriatric Depression Scale.