Grant Application

Stacy Stark,MSN, RN, of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC


Proposed Innovation

When adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are admitted to the general adult psychiatric inpatient units at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, they often experience difficulty adjusting. This can lead to increased aggression and self-injurious behaviors that can require the use of additional medications, as well as seclusion and restraints.

With funding from the Beckwith Institute, personalized toolboxes will be assembled for incoming ASD/ID patients to increase their comfort level, and help staff with patient communication and management.


Improvements in Action

Through this project, staff at Western Psychiatric’s John Merck Program (JMP) Unit — which specializes in assessing and treating adults with ASD and ID — will help to create a JMP Toolbox that will accompany patients sent to other adult psychiatric inpatient units. The toolbox will include personal information such as food preferences, daily care instructions, typical triggers to avoid, and contact information for JMP staff, plus communication devices and picture boards for non-verbal patients, sensory items (50×40 fleece blanket, stress ball), games (deck of cards, card games, word searches), radio headphones, and other items (crayons, markers, stickers).

A total of 10 toolboxes will be created for JMP patients, along with supplies for 200 toolbox refills.


Results — In Progress

Using the toolbox with the same type of interventions that are typically used on the specialized JMP Unit will reduce variations in care patients with ASD and ID receive when they are admitted to other units. This is expected to reduce patient aggression and decrease the use of additional medication, seclusion, and restraints. An effectiveness study will be conducted to evaluate the impact of the project on patient care, the patient experience, quality of care, and patient safety.