While working in the healthcare field, it is not uncommon to come across an individual who is in need of services that you are not able to provide. When this is the case, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the options for care that can help people recover from a wide range of concerns at different severity levels. By doing so, you can have a bank of resources to turn to should you need to provide someone with a referral to a different level of care, whether you have an established relationship with that individual or have just encountered him or her.
Treatment providers welcome the opportunity to work with professionals in and around the community to ensure that men, women, and young people can receive the treatment they need. In fact, most healthcare providers have a referral process in place to make an individual’s transition from one provider to another as streamlined as possible. Most if not all addiction treatment centers have specific referral protocols in place in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of individuals who are actively using substances.
The following process is what you, a healthcare provider, may encounter in the event that you refer a person to a center that supplies addiction and/or chemical dependency treatment:
- The treatment center that you contact will ask you who you are in relation to the individual for whom you are calling.
- The person with whom you are speaking with will ask about the individual’s presenting concerns and will assess the need for the type of treatment that is being requested.
- This same person is also likely to inform you about the cost of care and may ask you if you are aware of how the individual will intend to pay for services.
- Contact information for the individual is likely to be requested so that the person you are calling about can begin the official process of admissions with the treatment center staff. Conversely, if you do not have consent to divulge the individual’s personal information, the treatment center staff member can provide you with information about how the individual can start the admissions process when he or she is ready.
If the person you are calling for is not appropriate for the type of treatment that the center offers, you will then be provided with a referral or a list of referrals for centers that may be a better fit for the individual.
Additionally, as a professional who is advocating on behalf of another person, you are likely to be informed of possible ways in which you can remain an active part of the individual’s care while he or she is receiving services through another provider. It is important to keep in mind, however, that most if not all addiction treatment providers require the consent of the individual in order to share information about their treatment progress with others. The following are the more common ways that professionals may remain involved with their patients while these patients are receiving care from an addiction treatment provider:
- You can be provided with updates on how the individual is progressing in treatment.
- You may be initially or regularly consulted with so that the individual’s treatment providers can more easily establish a thorough treatment plan.
- You can be included in the treatment planning process with your own plan of care factored into the list of recovery goals put in place for the individual.
- You can become part of the individual’s treatment and play an active role in supplying care and invaluable support during this phase of the individual’s recovery.
Many addiction treatment centers are pleased to collaborate with other professionals who are working with those requiring a higher level of care because they can offer insight and perspective that would otherwise have to be learned at a much slower pace. If you suspect that someone you are treating could need a higher level of care at some point during his or her recovery journey, it is a good idea to advise and encourage him or her to grant consent so that he or she can receive the best treatment possible.
Furthermore, once an individual has completed care with another provider, the center that has been supplying services may include you in their discharge planning process. For the purposes of maintaining continuity of care, addiction specialists and mental health professionals prefer to discharge individuals to the care of the professionals who were supplying treatment before the need for a higher level of care arose.
What is important for you, a healthcare professional, to know is that if you are currently treating someone who is in need of more intensive addiction treatment than you can provide, or if you have come in contact with someone who is in need of the type of chemical dependency care that you do not offer, remember that help is available to both the individual and you. Regardless if you are a therapist, counselor, addiction specialist, or other healthcare professional, you can access the resources that you require and that your clients or patients need to heal and recover from substance use disorders in a lasting way.