Setting the Record Straight – Bellwether’s Approach to Behavioral Health

 

For the past three years, Bellwether Behavioral Health has undergone a dramatic transformation designed to improve the services we provide to the individuals in our care, and to their families.

 

However, several media stories have highlighted specific incidents that have occured, and focused on adverse circumstances or outdated information, while failing to note the most significant changes and operational improvements at Bellwether. Among them:

 

  • A completely new, senior-level management team, all working toward the same goal: to provide a safe and healthy environment for the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.

 

  • New procedures designed to transition our staff away from the use of mechanical restraints.
     

  • Enhanced Bellwether’s patient intake policy to better serve the most challenging cases.

 

  • Dedicated significant resources to increased staffing while hiring experienced leaders with specific expertise.
     

It is our goal to be as transparent as possible as we work collaboratively with state officials to deliver the highest quality care possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Bellwether doing to address the concerns of state officials?
 

  • Our goal is to provide quality care, period. We take the state's concerns seriously, so any issue we can correct immediately, we correct. But we're also focused on long-term adherence to the high standards expected of us. To that end, we have submitted a quality improvement plan to the state and are working collaboratively to ensure we meet those standards in the future.

 

What is Bellwether doing to improve staff quality and patient / staff ratios?

  • Beginning in 2015, Bellwether has made substantial operational investments, the most notable example is the move to phase out the practice of mechanical restraint, which required an increase of $1.9 million for additional labor, supervision and oversight.

 

  • We have made several new hires to increase the quality and expertise of staff, including the development of an enhanced Quality Improvement Team to assist with oversight and compliance.  This increased focus on quality improvement activities will be an integral part of BBH’s management going forward.

What is Bellwether doing to enhance transparency for families?

  • A major focus of our quality improvement efforts is a significant increase in communication. Today, Bellwether staff, the parents, guardians and most importantly, the individuals, all have the power and communication tools to express their concerns, get questions answered, and share important information with one another.

 

Here are just a few of the changes we’ve made in the last three years:

 

  • We have revamped the company website with more information, and will soon roll out additional enhancements.

 

  • Bellwether has expanded our social media efforts to share important information, photos and updates with friends and loved ones.

 

  • We launched the “Bellwether Buzz” newsletter to reinforce our connection with families and keep everyone informed and up to date.

 

  • The establishment of a dedicated email communication channel for families provides any parent or guardian a direct connection to our Director of Relationship Management, where they can share concerns, ask questions and quickly get information on their loved one. 

 

  • Recently, we completed a 10-part webinar series geared toward educating and providing key information to all our Bellwether families.
     

What is Bellwether’s response to the negative stories in the press?
 

  • Our primary concern is to ensure the health and safety of all the individuals entrusted to us and we are working closely with New Jersey DDD officials to address all their concerns.
     

  • We do not comment on specific incidents out of respect for privacy of the individuals we serve and their families.

  • We are committed to providing the highest standards of care to individuals with exceptional needs and will continue to make investments to improve the quality of our programs.

 

Does Bellwether still use mechanical restraints?
 

  • Beginning in 2016, Bellwether began phasing out the use of mechanical restraints in New Jersey. As of August 2018 this transition is nearly complete. This change in direction required substantial investment in additional staff monitoring and training. To date, Bellwether has invested $1.9 million to make these improvements.

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