October 2, 2023

Brown bagging rehabilitation in Cayman Islands

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DCR Brown Bag GroupThe Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman (RCGC) recently marked the start of its second year providing brown paper-bagged meals to the Department of Community Rehabilitation (DCR) for distribution to some clients.

Rotaract President Stephanie Rattan presented the latest donation of monthly lunches to DCR Director Teresa Echenique-Bowen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014. Since its involvement last July in the rehabilitative programme for adult offenders diagnosed with mental illness, RCGC has provided 25 meals a month on average to persons appearing before the special Mental Health Court.

Expressing DCR’s gratitude to the club, Ms. Echenique-Bowen said: “This is an excellent example of how service organisations and government entities can work together to benefit our community. It is important for us to realise that community needs are not the sole responsibility of government, but to call for a holistic approach and collaboration to make a difference in our Islands.

She invited other interested service clubs and private sector organisations to contact DCR to enquire how they can assist with the mental health court or other programmes and services.

“RCGC is extremely happy to be a part of this programme, providing a balanced lunch to the clients of DCR in the Mental Health Court system. We saw the need and were happy to assist. Our members look forward every month to packing the lunches with inspirational quotes and sayings, then handing them over to the clients,” Ms Rattan responded.

Chief Officer Eric Bush, DCR staff, visiting Rotary District Governor Paul Brown, Mrs. Kay Brown, as well as Grand Cayman’s Rotary Club Presidents and RCGC members were also present at the handover.

Past Community Service Director for RCGC Jhaneille Ennis commented that the club was happy to be a part of such a worthwhile initiative and anticipated another successful year.

Incentivising Attendance

DCR launched the Brown Paper Bag drive in 2010 to provide wholesome meals to mentally ill adult offenders appearing before the special mental health court.

The Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman (RCGC) took over the initiative in July 2013 and continues to provide approximately 25 lunches monthly to these individuals through DCR.

Each month, club members pack lunches in brown paper bags decorated with creative and inspiring messages. The lunches are then taken to DCR on the day the court is held so that they can be distributed to each mental health client upon leaving court. Each meal consists of a drink, chips, cookie, fruit and either a sandwich or a pattie.

Rehabilitating Mentally Ill Offenders

In response to an increasing number of adults with mental health illnesses appearing before the criminal justice system, DCR prepared a proposal in February 2010 that allowed for a multi-disciplinary approach to best meet the needs of these individuals and to develop treatment plans to enable community-based supervision.

With the support of the Chief Justice, Hon. Anthony Smellie and former Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale, mental health court services were implemented in 2009. Clients attend court on Wednesdays once a month. `

The court has a structured treatment team including magistrate, prosecutor, defence attorney, probation, prison and mental health officers, including a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a mental health community nurse. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as well as the Counselling Centre are other key agencies that provide services to meet clients’ needs as they arise.

At court sittings, the offenders receive acknowledgement and recognition when they are doing well. They are also held accountable when they are not. Treatment has proven to be more effective and efficient when emphasis is placed on rewarding and praising persons for their achievements.

DCR is responsible for providing social inquiry reports, case status updates, and bail monitoring for the court, as well as supervision of orders from the court and the facilitation of various group services.

Prior to every court session, the team discusses the progress and treatment plan of each individual client.

The supervision of these clients is primarily carried out by DCR and mental health community nurses. It entails:

  • Frequent contact with their family and social support at home or at work
  • Liaison with key agencies such as substance abuse treatment providers and DCFS
  • Making appropriate referrals to treatment providers, the National Workforce Development Agency and DCFS.

Image: Photo by Bina Mani GIS

Department of Community Rehabilitation Director, Mrs. Teresa Echenique-Bowen receives a brown paper bagged lunch from Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman President Stephanie Rattan, at DCR offices. Attendees include Rotary District Governor Paul Brown and Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush.

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