Strong teamwork supports and advocates for a bipolar youth with specialized needs

A crucial part of providing effective services for youth is well-trained staff who bring a clear and consistent approach to their work.

Tabitha Eddleston has seen this throughout her entire time at WJS. “I definitely find the same routines and values are about quality and teamwork,” says Tabitha. “[They] are all very consistent within each house I’ve worked at, and I’ve worked with three different houses within WJS.”

In her work providing effective services for youth, Tabitha notes that the training staff receive is particularly important. This helps her and her team identify youths’ needs and also safely deal with crisis intervention through non-violent means. One example was a youth who entered a house and was initially diagnosed as having bi-polar. They quickly found that the youth had more complex needs. This youth was frequently in a manic state, where they believed they were an ‘airbender’, someone with the ability to move air currents at will based on an animated children’s show. Tabitha and her team used non-violent crisis intervention tactics to help the youth become calmer and stay safe during these periods. They also advocated for him to enter a healthcare facility. There, he could receive more appropriate care based on his needs.

“Our goals were to keep him safe and fed,” says Tabitha. “When he was in that state he wouldn’t eat, so we would take the time to prepare a good breakfast and sit down with him in the morning to encourage him to eat. We also redirected him to take showers and sleep so he could stay healthy.”

Ultimately, they supported him through enjoyable activities until he could transition to a new care facility. Tabitha was observant and mindful of not only the youth, but also her staff. Their commitment and teamwork improved the quality of care this youth received, both in their care and after.

“You had to be active the whole time with this youth,” she says. “So we helped each other by giving each other chances to have a break, communicated through shift changes to maintain consistency for the youth, and let each other know about things that were or were not working.”