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Vocational rehab helps clients to find and keep jobs

Job training and placement services for those with behavioral health issues.

Vocational rehabilitation makes seeking and finding a job a positive process for those with behavioral disorders.

Providing key skills to those who want to enter the workforce, Zucker Hillside Hospital continues to develop its Vocational Rehabilitation Program since pioneering the field in the facility's early days. Improvements in psychopharmacological interventions have been significant contributors. Over time, new medications and therapeutic approaches have better addressed behavioral health issues, enabling people to live more functionally.

"Program trainees get help with community transitions based on their life goals: to get a job, to go back to school, to live independently," said Carmine DeSena, director of psychiatric rehabilitation. "Our process combines self-awareness - what do you like, what are your abilities - with an awareness of what's available in the actual job market."

South Oaks matches interests to jobs

South Oaks Hospital's vocational rehab specializes in helping high school students and young adults who want to transition into the community.

"We guide patients to options and give them an idea of potential next steps," said Teri Hughes, LMHC, program director of vocational and school-based services.

Young adults receive support and work readiness training that's tailored to individual personalities and needs. For example, those with "invisible" disabilities like autism spectrum disorders need training in soft work skills such as punctuality and making eye contact.

South Oaks staff members match participants' interests with potential job opportunities. Ms. Hughes cited a client who wanted to work with animals and has been employed at Petco for five years. Another found employment at a pet hotel.

Not all program enrollees work for five days a week. "It may be just one day," Ms. Hughes said.

South Oaks' vocational rehab takes place within schools or on the South Oaks campus. The hospital also hosts community presentations to help adolescents understand what happens after high school and what they need to be independent adults.

"Assistance is also available to help parents understand and cope with what's next for their children," Ms. Hughes said.

quotation mark When we focus on the whole person, we see greater success.
Lisa Lumia, LMHC

Work readiness training

Evidence-based practices provide immediately applicable skills to clients of Zucker Hillside's Nassau Day Training Program, said Lisa Lumia, LMHC.

Enrollees can volunteer at the hospital's thrift store and get a certificate for their help. This work experience is a boon for people who have never had a job before, had an extended period of unemployment or were previously homeless.

The Sign-On Enterprises shop creates name tags, banners and other printed materials for Northwell Health. The Hempstead-based business serves as a situational assessment for participants' soft work skills and abilities, which helps target a viable employment goal.

Zucker Hillside's Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation also works with Northwell Health's Corporate Human Resources Department to stay current on résumé preparation, interviewing technique and technical skills that employers need. Participants who want to reenter the job market can receive prevocational skills development, direct placement with community employment opportunities and job coaching and retention services. Underemployed patients receive assistance with securing work that is full time or more career oriented, according to Ms. Lumia.

Nassau Day Training Program staff emphasize:

  • Job retention skills: Assisting people with everyday challenges that may be obstacles to maintaining employment.
  • Case management: Counseling on matters such as housing and benefits and relationships with family, friends, co-workers and supervisors.

"When we focus on the whole person, we see greater success," said Ms. Lumia.

Learn more about vocational rehab at South Oaks:
(631) 608-5052
Connect with the Zucker Hillside Nassau Day Training Program:
(516) 939-2290