People across the country understand the phrase “recovery-oriented systems of care” in a variety of ways, so it is worthwhile to define the term.
“Recovery-oriented” refers to services and systems that are person-centered and self-directed. Such services provide a diverse array of nonclinical supports in addition to person-directed assessment and treatment services. In addition, recovery-oriented systems and services consciously assess and develop the strength and resilience of individuals, their families and allies, and their communities prior to, during, after—even in lieu of—formal treatment episodes.
A recovery-oriented approach views treatment in a clinical setting as a potential starting point to long-term recovery, but does not see clinic-based treatment as an end it itself, particularly for those with severe or advanced behavioral health conditions. Recovery-oriented services and systems are developed with an understanding that individuals are the experts of their own wellbeing, and that long-term recovery happens not in clinics, but in communities.
“Systems of care” conveys the important concept of scope. A ROSC is a network of clinical and nonclinical services and supports developed and mobilized to sustain long-term, community-based recovery. Developing a successful network entails aligning many aspects of a service system and community with a recovery-oriented approach, including treatment, peer and other recovery support services, system monitoring, performance improvement and evaluation strategies, prevention and early intervention, cross-system collaborations, and the fiscal, policy, and regulatory environments. All of these elements must become aligned with a recovery-oriented approach in order to create a strong, sustainable ROSC.
The “system” in ROSC does not refer to a particular local, state, or federal treatment agency, or to a steering committee, or any particular type of organization. Instead, it refers to a macro-level network of recovery-oriented organizations serving a community, a state, or a nation.
Because ROSCs are local and organic, a ROSC can’t be implemented in one place and then picked up and copied elsewhere. These systems are as unique as the communities that form them. An organization can’t “have” a ROSC or “be” a ROSC; it can only participate in a ROSC.
A ROSC benefits people with behavioral health conditions, but it also benefits the broader community by focusing on prevention and early intervention and promoting health and wellness for all.