Reasons for Resident Discharge
- Core Requirements: Violations including relapse, possession of banned substances, violence, or criminal activity
- Payments: Missing rent for more than one week without a payment arrangement established
- Conditions: Developing a state in which you may harm yourself, others, or needs off-site treatment
- Rules: Not following other rules and policies including conduct of guests
Conditions for Immediate Discharge
In these cases, the House Manager must immediately terminate the resident. Approval from the Operator is not required, but House Managers must notify the Operator immediately after the Discharge. Reasons for immediate Discharge include:
- Being found with drugs or alcohol, or overdose in the home
- Significant act of violence in the home
- Refusing a drug screen or breathalyzer
Other Conditions for Discharge
In all other circumstances, the House Manager must speak with the Operator to discuss the right course of action. Possible actions include Discharge, placing the resident on a 30-day restriction, or other action. Discretion should be made based on the honesty of the resident, their seniority, and other unique circumstances surrounding the event. If a Discharge is the right course of action, you can decide whether to let them back into the house in the future. A partial list of infractions is below:
- Violation of Core Requirements, including relapse, violence, weapons, theft, or criminal activity
- Positive urine screen or subsequent blood test
- Admitting to using drugs or alcohol outside of the home
- Possessing items on the Banned Substances List
- Discrepancies in prescribed medication (missing pills, having too many)
- Bullying or threatening behavior
- Minor acts of violence
- Possession of a weapon
- Missing rent payments for more than one week without a payment arrangement established
- Non-compliance with rules and requirements of Vanderburgh House, including conduct of guests
- Typically three write-ups or other repetitive rule-breaking behavior
Witnessed Behavior. A Discharge may be warranted for suspected drug use, even if no proof is found for use of substances. As an Operator, you are trained and experienced in witnessing behavior, and are ultimately responsible for the safety of all residents in the home. If you witness behavior which indicates use of any mind-altering substance, you can make the determination that they appear to be under the influence of a substance and must be Discharged or be subject to other disciplinary action.
A resident agrees in the Resident Agreement to leave the home voluntarily within 30 minutes upon Discharge, and to collect their belongings within72 hours (more in the Resident Agreement). We generally do not terminate residents in the middle of the night. You may allow for additional time if the circumstance demands it. Judgement should be used in all cases of resident Discharge to make sure that the home is kept safe and that the resident is treated fairly. Residents should be informed of the entire process and asked for their input on how we can help them in their next step. You can accommodate reasonable requests and help support them while they transition to alternate housing.
Timeline. 30 minutes’ notice is a short amount of time, but often is necessary in the event a resident is under the influence or otherwise endangering the other residents’ sobriety or safety. This commitment by the resident is subject to amendment by the Operator only if giving more time will not harm other residents.
Notification. If a resident leaves the home for any reason, the House Manager must notify the Operator on the WhatsApp group chat thread. If the Operator is involved, it should still be documented on the group chat thread for documentation purposes.
Resident Assistance. Residents may be driven by an Operator to a detox or rehab facility, or have an Operator coordinate their transport to these facilities (please note: we require Operators to carry appropriate insurance in the event any transportation of residents takes place). We strive to aid our residents in success in their next step and must be there for them in their transition to a higher level of care. However, you should be cautious to carry the appropriate insurance and properly train staff in the case that you do decide to offer transportation to a Discharged resident.
Operator Involvement. In the event a resident is Discharged for a drug or alcohol related offense, the Operator must be present at the home while packing up the resident’s belongings. This is to ensure that any contraband in their possession is properly found and disposed of.
Resident File. All contents of a departed resident’s file must be retained in the office. Any time someone moves out collect their screening logs, check-in logs, and any paperwork relating to the resident.
- Confirm resident discharge decision
- Notify resident that they are being discharged and give them the terms and conditions of the discharge
- If the House Manager is conducting the discharge, ____
- If the Opeartor is conducting the discharge, ____
- Notify Other Residents. A brief meeting with all present residents should be conducted by the House Manager to explain the event. It is appropriate to give the other residents details of the infraction(s) and why the decision was made that a Discharge was appropriate.
- Notification of Third Parties. If a resident is Discharged, it is appropriate to notify anyone with whom we have authorization to disclose this information. Typically, this would be any probation officers, parole officers, parents, and emergency contacts. Ensure that we are authorized to communicate with the party before disclosing any information to them.
- Personal Items. Following Discharge and after the resident’s belongings have either been collected or moved elsewhere, the House Manager must keep and wash their bedding and remake their bed in preparation for a new resident to move in. We have a policy to hold a departed resident’s belongings for up to two weeks, however this is not always possible. After a reasonable amount of time has passed, abandoned property may be given to current residents, set aside to help new residents, or be made available to your office for use and/or donation. Discarded items can be distributed to residents. Any items which would benefit the home such as toiletries, linens, small appliances, and other items should be kept and made available to residents who need them. Any unwanted items can be donated or discarded in the trash.
- Trash should be thrown away by the House Manager
- Useful Items which are unwanted by anyone in the home should be donated
- Drugs or any other illicit substances should be disposed of at an appropriate site such as an appropriate pharmacy or a police station
- Buildium Documentation. Buildium must be kept current at all times. Document the event using a “note”.
- If they are being discharged for a positive screen, photograph the screen and upload to Buildium along with the note
- If they have violated another rule, produce an Incident Report and upload a scan of the report to the resident’s file in Buildium, including if they have admitted to using
- After adding documentation, move them out in the Buildium system as soon as is practical, but under no circumstances longer than one business day following their move-out.
- The House Manager must change the lock code to the home.
Refusing to Leave
A resident may refuse to be Discharged. House Managers are encouraged to contact the Operator in this case to discuss the best course of action. Police can be involved if the situation demands it. Discharged residents will often make threats or contact other residents in the home to start trouble. It is best to recommend to the house not to communicate with a former resident if they are looking to start trouble. A resident who will not leave should be reminded of the commitment they made to themselves and their fellow residents, and be told that by staying they break their promise to their housemates. The resident should be reminded that they have slipped from their commitments, and encouraged to now do “the next right thing.” In the case of Discharge, the next right thing includes honoring their commitment by moving to a new place to continue their recovery journey. A resident’s understanding of their commitment may be the most powerful tool available to you to compel the resident to leave.
Drug Screen Error
Residents will often contest the validity of a drug screen or breathalyzer or may have refused to take the screen. All residents are required to submit to screening, and if a drug screen is contested, they may go to a laboratory (emergency room) to have a blood test completed to challenge the results.
In the event the police are called to assist with a situation at the home, you can present the officer(s) with a copy of the Resident Agreement which details the Resident’s commitments to us to not use drugs and alcohol, and their commitment to leave immediately if they use drugs and alcohol and are Discharged. You may explain that:
- We are a structured recovery residential program, certified by a NARR member organization
- Residents must abide by rules, including not using drugs and alcohol
- This resident violated the rule(s) and, for the safety of the residents in the home, must leave
Although police may assist if the health, safety, or welfare of other residents or the general public is threatened, they are not obligated to assist you in moving out a resident. In each case, it is up to you to find a remedy that is consistent with the laws of your jurisdiction. You may have to obtain a court order compelling the resident to leave. It is clearly understood in the Resident Agreement that the resident lives in a sober house, that they have no possession of, or right to exclude others from the house, and that they commit to leave if they violate house rules. Residents give a “Permanent Address” in their signed Resident Agreement so that each resident acknowledges having somewhere to go in the case of Discharge. These are facts that may help you in obtaining a court order or convincing a resident to go voluntarily. It is always your responsibility, as an Operator, to be familiar with and comply with the laws of your jurisdiction.