Why PHP? PrairieCare Partial Hospitalization Services: A Social Worker’s Perspective By: Anna Johnson, LICSW

As a social worker I often hear messages of hope and gratitude from patients and parents upon discharge from programming; reports of improved behaviors and a decrease in mental health symptoms; of families getting along for the first time in years.  I hear of successful school transitions and hope for the future.  I observe your child ready to take on the world with newfound skills and confidence.  It is these observations and success stories that I share with parents and children who come in for an intake asking, “Why PHP?”  

In the Maple Grove Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), the social workers have the opportunity to meet with patients and families for intake on the child’s first day of programming.  During this meeting, I explain the program in detail, address patient and parent’s concerns, and respond to any questions they may have.  For some, the PHP program is the child’s first experience with mental health treatment; others may have accessed other mental health services or may be stepping down from an inpatient level of care.  Regardless of past experiences, most patients and parents feel nervous on their first day of programming and have a lot of questions about what this experience will be like for their child.  While each intake is different, the following are the most common questions I hear from patients and parents during the PHP intake process. 

Q: Will PHP staff collaborate with my child’s home school?

A: Yes!  District 287 teachers and your child’s PHP social worker will call your child’s home school upon intake to PHP.  Staff will ensure coordination of educational services (including special education plans) and share any pertinent information gathered from the home school with the treatment team.   A school staffing, or phone conference, with your child’s home school is scheduled for midway through treatment to plan for your child’s transition back to the school setting.  Upon discharge, PHP staff also sends education/therapy hours to your child’s school to ensure they are earning credit for their time in PHP.

Q: How does transportation work?

A: Generally speaking, your child’s home school district is responsible for providing transportation to PHP.  Parents may contact the child’s school counselor or district transportation office to initiate the process for setting up special transportation.  It may take the school district 3-5 business days to arrange transportation for your child, so we advise parents to contact schools as soon as possible.

Q: What kind of skills will my child learn by attending PHP?

A: Your child will attend a variety of groups in PHP, such as psychoeducation, nursing group, process group (group therapy), and activity therapy.  These groups focus on teaching your child a variety of skills including: coping skills, emotional regulation skills, goal setting skills, communication skills, and social skills.  Click here to learn more about the types of treatment offered in PHP.

Q: How much involvement will I have in my child’s treatment and how can I best support my child at home?

A: A regular component of the PHP program is weekly family therapy sessions.  Your child will also bring home a daily point sheet describing their day and parents are encouraged to complete a parent inventory about your child’s night and return it to PHP staff the next day.  Social workers review your child’s treatment progress each week and work closely with families to plan for discharge and after care services. 

Q: What is the average length of stay in PHP? 

A: Most patients attend PHP for an average of 3-5 weeks.  However, each child’s treatment is individualized to meet the child’s particular needs and may be shorter or longer, as needed. 

Q: My child was just hospitalized on an inpatient unit.  Why should I send my child to PHP instead of sending him/her back to school?

A: Sending your child to PHP can serve as a transition between inpatient hospitalization and returning to school full time, which can often feel overwhelming for your child.  In addition, your child’s psychiatrist may want to continue to monitor medications and make changes, as needed, which can be done in PHP.

Q: What happens after PHP?  Will someone help me plan for after care services for my child?

A: It is the social worker’s role to ensure that there is a supportive follow up care plan in place before your child discharges from the PHP program.  This includes providing resources and referrals to families for outpatient therapy and medication management, day treatment programs, or residential treatment, among other service options.  Social workers work with parents to schedule follow-up care appointments at discharge to ensure a smooth transition for your child.    

Communication between families and the treatment team is a key to success in mental health treatment.  If you have any questions about your child’s care, please consider the social worker as your “Go To” person to get some answers.

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