Austen Riggs held a blog competition among staff members where we asked them to write about what makes Riggs unique. This is the second blog in the series, written by one of our Admissions Coordinators Nicki May.
The Austen Riggs Center is approaching nearly 100 years, and while aspects of the treatment, programs, and setting may have changed along the way, one thing that has remained the same and continues to set Riggs apart from the competition is the open ended length of stay. In this field, hospital and treatment center programs are often defined by periods of time – 30 days, 60 days, 90 days. A product of our time crunched society, these “deadlines to get better” can just cause more stress and anxiety. In this incredibly fast paced world where nearly everything is rushed and we are plagued by expectations of instant gratification, time is an invaluable luxury that few are afforded. Riggs offers a space to slow things down and take moments to reflect, acknowledge, and process, without the limitations of time.
While we do ask for only a minimum commitment of six weeks, most of our patients end up staying longer. An average length of stay is about six months, and during that time patients may transition to different levels of treatment. A common question we receive in Admissions is, “How soon can I transition into a step-down program?” Ultimately, it depends on the individual. All patients are admitted to our intensive evaluation and treatment phase for six weeks. With the approval of their treatment team, patients may be able to step down after the initial six weeks. Others may remain in that intensive level of care for weeks, months, or even their full length of stay.
The step-down programs are designed to help patients continue to develop self-management, interpersonal abilities and independent living skills, with the goal of making their transition beyond Riggs more manageable. These programs include home and apartment style living both on and off campus, as well as day treatment and aftercare programs for patients living independently in the local community.
No matter the length of time a patient stays, their treatment is structured to fit their specific needs and progresses at the pace that works for the individual. Part of what makes Riggs so special is the way it provides a space for time to allow things to unfold naturally.