DHS COVID-19 PROVIDER GUIDANCE // ODP
ODP Announcement 20-035:
Guidance for Preventing and Responding
to Behavioral Crises
Issued: April 2, 2020
Behavioral Specialists, Supports Coordination Organizations (SCOs), and other providers
During this time of uncertainty that can be challenging for individuals and supporters,
we are providing guidance to Behavioral Specialists, Supports Coordination
Organizations (SCOs), and other providers about diverting and responding to potential
crisis situations. Here are some strategies that can be implemented, but remember, the
key to effective supports during this time is flexibility in meeting the individual needs of
the people we support.
The guidance is broken down into two sections. The first is for Behavioral Specialists.
The second is for non-Behavioral Specialist Providers and SCOs.
Guidance to Behavioral Specialists
- Review Plans: Given that many individual's schedules and routines have changed, it is
important to review Behavioral Support Plans (BSP) and Crisis Intervention Plans (CIP) or
crisis strategies to ensure that the plans are capturing the individual's most recent
situations and circumstances. For example, are there additional strategies that need to
be considered to proactively assist the individual to navigate their day (e.g., visual
schedule, exposure to new at home activities)? Please update the plans, as appropriate.
Also, since our current situation is unprecedented, a temporary plan may supersede the
current BSP and CIP in an effort to prioritize health and safety to get through this
- Capitalize on Natural Supports: It is a good time to reassess who is currently in the
individual's life who can provide a source of mental, emotional, and physical support, as
needed. Once identified, it would be helpful to reach out to these persons to review the
BSP and CIP to ensure they are versed in the supports, strategies and interventions
identified as helpful. Training and connecting with natural supports and supporters is an
essential part of your job during this time.
- Proactive Outreach: It would be helpful to identify individuals that have a tendency
for a heightened response to change, transitions, not being able to engage in preferred
activities, etc. Providing periodic wellness check-ins with these individuals in an effort to
proactively assess and identify needs for additional on site or remote supports is
important. Also, check-ins with supporters is important to ensure that they feel
confident and competent in providing the day to day support. These check-ins can be
done via technologies like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Duo. Note that the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has outlined typical
reactions that we all may face during times like these. It is important to remind each
other that, no matter our mental health status, anxiety, worry and fear are normal
reactions to this emergency. Many of the individuals we support may need some help
understanding when they need to reach out for help to deal with these responses. The
attached SAMHSA documents help to explain typical reactions as well as when and how
to reach out for help and may be a helpful resource to assess someone’s needs.
- Communicate and Manage On Call Supports: There is the potential for crisis during
this time for anyone. Providing a means for supporters to reach out to receive
assistance, particularly during times of crisis, is important. It is important to remind
supporters that reaching out when an individual is in the midst of crisis is not as
productive or helpful. This emphasizes the importance of identifying the behaviors that
are typical for an individual during periods of escalation as this is the point in which
supporters should reach out to BS for additional support, if needed. It is equally
important to communicate with supporters to reach out to the BS after a crisis (when
the individual has de-escalated) to debrief on what worked and did not work during the
crisis, for future reference.
If you have any questions related to this email or requests for additional resources,
please email us