LifeSkills program helps clients get involved

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

Living independently may come easy for most people, but for somea little direction is needed.

Guidance for individuals with mental illness or drug/alcoholdisabilities is the key to a new program at the Lincoln CountyLifeSkills Center.

Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex’s day supportservice is a psycho-social rehabilitation program designed to helppeople continue to live independently in the community, saidLincoln County LifeSkills director Rita Brown Bobkoskie.

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“We felt like the move to day support was needed for our clientsto get more involved in activities and more involved in thecommunity,” she said.

The Day Support program, which receives partial funding from theDepartment of Mental Health and Medicaid, operates five hours a dayfrom Monday through Friday at the Monticello Street location.

Each day the clients are picked up on the LifeSkills bus orbrought to the facility by a family member around 9 a.m.

“First thing every morning the clients have a meeting. Theydiscuss current events, future events and scheduled activities,”said Bobkoskie. “Clients are allowed to verbalize, give input onthe activities and make suggestions. They come up with some goodideas.”

She pointed out that the clients are very involved in planningdaily activities and meals. Some of the activities involveindividual, group and family therapy, social skills training,leisure time, community integration and daily living skillstraining.

“All of our clients have the right to choose what services theywant to participate in,” said Bobkoskie.

The 24 clients, ranging from 16 years old to adults, haveenjoyed the transition from the typical clubhouse style program tothe day support program since March, said Bobkoskie.

“They like to go grocery shopping and help choose the menu foreach month,” she added. “Our goal is independence for the clients.We want them to achieve their optimum level of functioning.”

Families and business owners are a big part of the program asclients often have the chance to work at local businesses as a wayto make money and adapt to a working situation.

“We encourage the family members to meet with us regularly so weknow what’s going on in the home, too,” said Bobkoskie, explaininghow understanding home life can assist in the treatmentprocess.

Case workers sometimes visit the homes of client in order to geta better understanding of their life.

Family and friends often encourage clients to get involved withthe day support program because of the success already evident inclients’ lives.

“We’ve gotten requests about expanding our bus routes so otherclients could have access to our services. I would say that initself shows how successful our program has been,” Bobkoskiesaid.