A New Addition to the Ukeru Family – Welcome to Nakeysha Stevenson

Ukeru is now being used in 130 organizations across 27 states. So we are growing our talented team to keep pace! Please join us in welcoming Nakeysha Stevenson to the family. Though, in truth, Nakeysha was already a part of the extended family, having been a Program Support Supervisor at our parent organization, Grafton Integrated Health Network’s Berryville campus.

Read our recent interview with Nakeysha to get to know her better and see why she believes in the Ukeru philosophy:

Why did you want to work in behavioral healthcare?

I decided to work in behavioral health because I had a desire to work with young adults. I wanted to help them change their lives for the better. I knew that this field would challenge me outside of my comfort zone, but I was willing to take a chance if it meant being able to possibly change someone’s life.

I’ve worked in a lot of fields over the years, but never felt the satisfaction I sensed I would in working with kids. I first applied to Ukeru’s parent organization, Grafton, as a part time Direct Support Professional (DSP). I immediately felt like I found my place and that I was making a difference, even early on. After subbing for about a year, I moved into a full time position. And I never looked back!

What is your background? How long have you worked in behavioral healthcare?

I have worked at Grafton for approximately 15 years. During that time, I worked in various positions from DSP to Administrative Assistant to Program Support. I recently transitioned to Ukeru because I am interested in making changes at a national level.

Do you have a favorite story from your career?

Most recently, I began working with a client that has Bi-polar, Borderline Personality and poor family relations. I am not sure why or what about me made this client connect with me in such a manner, but it was certainly rewarding.

I even participated in her therapy sessions. My presence helped motivate her to really fight through the feelings and emotions that caused her to damage so many of her relationships. She used our relationship as an example for how she wanted other relationships in her life to be and to feel. I held her very accountable for her behaviors, both verbal and nonverbal. We worked together to understand how some of the behaviors might have caused damage in her previous relationships. Being able to support someone in that way is very meaningful. I’ll always remember the work we did together.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I enjoy spending time with my four-year-old daughter as well as my family and friends. When not doing that, like most people, I just like to relax and catch up on my DVR’ed shows. I really like procedural shows like Law & Order and the Good Doctor!

Why is Ukeru unique?

Ukeru is complementary to the training programs that most facilities already have in place. Ukeru is a non-restraint program that teaches an approach of comfort vs. control in an effort to not re-traumatize.

What does utilizing a trauma informed approach mean to you? How has it affected your work?

Being trauma-informed means treating everyone (staff and clients) as though they have previously been through a trauma – because pretty much everyone has experienced some form of trauma! Taking a trauma-informed approach means being aware and respectful of someone’s past experience in an effort to not re-traumatize.

Looking at things from this perspective has affected my work greatly. I have come to realize that I can’t use the same plan or response when working with different people because everyone’s experience is different. Even something that seems small, like the tone of our voice, can be triggering to someone who has experienced trauma. I am always thinking about how to avoid inducing flashbacks of something they may have dealt with in their past.

What would you say to those who tell you a restraint free environment can create increased risk or that it wouldn’t work for certain populations/in certain settings?

If everyone is on board and willing to work through a period of changes, then there is great success to be seen. There are so many examples of how well Ukeru works to increase safety. Grafton is the original example – we were able to reduce restraint by 99% and eliminate seclusion entirely while, at the same time, reducing the number of client-induced injuries to staff. But there are so many other examples of organizations working with Ukeru, like the Millcreek Township School District, Wesley Spectrum Family Services, Autism Services, that have experienced wonderful results. The list goes on!

What would you say to an organization considering Ukeru?

Call us, request material, and set up a consultation. I assure you we can provide help with your goals of reducing restraint/seclusions and increase overall morale. Once you hear the stories of success for yourself, you’ll be convinced!