Natural Supports

​​​​​​​​​​​​Natural supports are unpaid resources in the community that enhance and help sustain recovery and/or habilitation. They are a vital aspect of the behavioral health care system and paid service providers are expected to help link members with these supports. Natural supports include the following:

  • Government services, such as social services, school systems, public transportation, vocational assistance, and housing supports;

  • Private, non-profit community resources, such as faith communities, social and recreational groups, employers, recovery/support communities (e.g., AA) and advocacy groups (e.g., NAMI); and,

  • Personal connections, such as family and friends, as identified by the individual. 

Generally without these supports, funded services are unlikely to be successful. Therefore making sure our members are connected to such resources is vital to ensuring effective use of funding streams. Natural supports are reciprocal in nature and help develop a person's sense of belonging, dignity and self-esteem. Natural supports also foster empowerment, independence and growth and reduce reliance on services. People develop natural supports in a number of ways. For example, participating in community activities and projects, volunteering, and joining clubs are some ways to develop strong natural supports.

Intended Populations

  • All members participating in our service array should be screened for their natural resource assets and needs, as well as barriers to connecting to such.

  • Those with severe social resource deficits should have targeted interventions through the use of time-limited services which include case management to assist in connecting them to available natural resources.

  • Those with severely disabling conditions are likely to need the most assistance with connection to natural supports and resources, with longer-term needs for coordination of resources in the enhanced service system.

Recommended Best Practices

  • Core Best Practices

  • Screening of the natural resource strengths, needs and barriers on a yearly basis by service providers for all members actively in care.

  • Use of person-centered planning for those in enhanced services that specifically target natural resource evaluation, and  recognize the need to investigate resources according to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, faith affiliation, as well as personal and social-group preferences and interests.

  • Focus specifically on housing and employment as the natural resources that can provide some of the greatest stability for those seeking independence.

  • Family psychoeducation

Desired Outcomes

Management Approach

  • Cardinal Innovation's Access center (1-800-939-5911) staff are trained to connect callers to natural and other community-based supports according to identified needs.

  • UM review of Person Centered Plans submitted for authorization of enhanced services to ensure natural support connections are being made and used, with telephonic or written communication with providers when goals are not met.

  • Care Coordination for special populations to assist with natural resource linkage. ​