Date of Award

6-1-1955

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

School

School of Social Work

Degree Name

M.S.W.

Abstract

In this study, the writer has explored the Member-Employee Program as an intermediate step in the rehabilitation or mentally ill patients in Veterans Administration Neuro-Psychiatric Hospitals. The Member-Employee Program has been used effectively at these hospitals to indicate to the staff the readiness, initiative and the responsibility of the individual patients.

The purposes of this study were to determine the roles of the Member-Employee Program in the rehabilitation or the patient, to show the obstacles in the path of the program and how they have been removed, to show the social worker's role in the program and to show the effectiveness of the program to help patients in the hospital in which the study was made.

The material used in this study was obtained from social service records, clinical records and progress reports of patients an member-employee status. These data were supplemented by conferences with doctors, social workers and others who were familiar with the cases. Published materials as well as unpublished materials and attendance at some meetings of the Medical Rehabilitation Board provided background information and framework for interpretation.

This study included twenty-five patients which was the total number placed on member-employee status at the hospital where the study was made, during the first year of the program's inception. The program was one year old on November 1, 1954.

As a result of this study, the following conclusions were derived:

The insistence on total rehabilitation so that an individual is restored "to a station of independent earning power" (Webster's definition) is an indication of an inflexibility which can be detrimental in the 2 treatment of the mentally ill. Moreover, it is a denial of differences among individuals and of the societal dicta to which we conform. An ability to compromise, to lower goals and to decrease pressures so that a sick person can move out of an institutional setting and live in a community and participate in its functions within the limits of his shortcomings is rehabilitation in the psychiatric sense, if not in accord with the dictionary definition.

An examination of the Member-Employee Program as it developed at this hospital offers a valuable lesson in administration and in human understanding for similar institutions interested in organizing such a program. A treatment program must have a philosophy and a purpose and must approach attainable goals periodically as a program and for each patient served by it. From its inception, the Member-Employee Program was faced by many obstacles in its path and as each was hurdled, philosophy and purpose began to materialize.

A year from its inception, the Member-Employee Program, and its functioning arm, the Medical Rehabilitation Board, have become a definite and entrenched part of the hospital's treatment and rehabilitative facilities. Statistics for so young a program are meager but the fact that only four of the twenty-five patients placed on member-employee status during the first year of the program were removed and returned to patient status, leads the writer to feel that the Member-Employee Program manifests more positive factors than negative factors in the adjustment of psychotic patients. The fact that some patients were able to move out of the hospital and others were able to remain on member-employee status after resolving their problems and fears through participation in the program and other patients were unable to accomplish such movement, indicates further that some patients are not able to benefit through this program and that perhaps further study should be made regardi.ng the values of the program as a therapeutic tool in order to screen more closely the patients chosen to be member-employees. There is a possibility that we may realize 100% satisfactory adjustment of the patients placed on member-employee status if a definite criteria for selection of patients for the program is formulated.

The final conclusion in this study is that, in spite of the few negative aspects of the Member-Employee Program as a therapeutic tool, it is a most promising program designed to help mentally ill patients to live normally in their respective communities, and as the program grows .and further statistics are compiled regarding the successes and failures encountered, greater results will be realized by patients placed on member-employee status in the future.

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