“At Driftwood, the staff and residents always eat meals together, we do a lot of things together, and we don't ever want the clients to feel like the staff is separate from them. It's very integrated. We know so much about every client, and work so much on each case. We get creative with every treatment plan, with every discharge plan.”
A Conversation with Danielle Cobb | Driftwood Interviews
"No One's Ever Going to Be Just a Number Here"
This is the fifth in a series of posts introducing the people who make up Driftwood Recovery’s community of caregivers.
Through these conversations, you’ll get a chance to meet the people on Driftwood’s team—from its executives to its care coordinators. You’ll learn about the programs they facilitate, and about how their work serves Driftwood’s overall treatment philosophy. You’ll learn about the various paths that brought them here. And you might pick up a book or Austin restaurant recommendation.
In this post, Kuraĝo editor Matt Williamson talks with Driftwood’s Lead Care Coordinator, Danielle Cobb.
Matt Williamson: How many care coordinators do you supervise?
Danielle Cobb: Seventeen at the moment.
MW: Were you a care coordinator when you first started working at Driftwood, or were you hired as a supervisor?
DC: I was a care coordinator. About a year ago, the leadership team here took a chance on me.
MW: And since then, you’ve done all of the hiring, the training, the supervision?
DC: Yes—and also a lot of what I would call “coaching.” Encouraging people to develop professionally, doing what I can to help them achieve their own goals, to get to the place where they want to be in the future.
MW: It seems like the care coordinators do a bit of everything here. I think the impression anyone would get, even walking around the campus as a guest, is that the care coordinators are the people who make this place run.
DC: In some ways, the people I supervise have the most difficult job at Driftwood. They’re here when therapists aren't—including in the evening, obviously. They offer support in any way that they can: making sure that residents get to meetings on time—and just doing anything and everything that turns out to be necessary on a given day.
MW: How much communication do care coordinators have with the therapists here?
DC: A lot. We do shift reports: the morning shift report, the afternoon, evening, and then the overnight shift report. I also attend Driftwood’s morning meeting, where all of the clinicians are present, so I get a chance every day to bridge the gap of communication between the therapists and care coordinators.
MW: If this question isn’t too open-ended or tedious: could you walk me through all of the different interactions that a resident might have with care coordinators over the course of a day—from the time when they wake up to the time when they go to sleep?
DC: We come on at seven and wake everybody up. We have a communal breakfast with the residents. Then there's a bit of exercise time and some personal time for the residents. After that, we help people get to their therapeutic programming. There are group sessions running back-to-back through the morning. Through that part of the day, our job mostly involves shepherding people from one group to the next—pulling people in and out of groups for individual therapy, appointments, massages, things like that.
After lunch, there’s more programming, and a couple more groups. And then residents either do group exercise, or an experiential activity off-property. That could be kayaking, yoga, paddleboarding, hiking, bowling, rock climbing—you name it, we do it all.
We have a communal dinner. And then residents have a bit of down-time between dinner and the night’s AA meeting, which is off-property.
MW: What meetings do residents go to? Are they in Austin?
DC: A lot of the time, yes. The location varies. The care coordinators confer and make a decision based on the needs and interests of the residents who are staying here.
A lot of the staffers here are in recovery. We’re familiar with the meetings around town, and we know what meetings are likely to be most beneficial for the clientele that we have currently. Maybe we have a lot of older clients, so we’ll take them to a meeting with people they might relate to. Or maybe we have a lot of young clients and we want to get them involved in a younger community, in which case we’d likely take them to a meeting in the city.
MW: And then finally, you’re back at Driftwood—
DC: And it’s wind-down time. We have tea and group meditation right before bed.
MW: You mentioned that many of the care coordinators are in recovery. Some of the alumni I’ve talked to have mentioned the importance to them of being cared for by people who have gone through many of the same experiences they’re going through.
DC: Sure. But what makes Driftwood special isn’t necessarily that most of us have experience with some sort of recovery path, but the culture here. The love and support and connection and community we have here is unlike anything that I experienced in treatment. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen while touring other residential facilities. We're a very much a community—a diverse community. That's where a lot of the power is.
MW: You've worked here since this place first opened. It's grown quite a lot since then?
DC: Oh, yeah.
MW: How is that changing your job?
DC: Driftwood’s growth has felt like a managed, gradual process. We’ve been able to on more staff, or add more programs, at the moments when we’ve needed them. So it doesn't feel like there’s been a whole lot of abrupt change. We’re a well-oiled machine. But we've had to be flexible in our thinking—open to new ideas and systems. In the beginning, we didn't need a lot of that, because the place was so small.
MW: Can you give an example of a system that you might have been reluctant to put in place initially, but that you’re using now?
DC: I was thinking mainly of the systems we use for communication. In the early days of Driftwood, the care coordinators were able to just talk to one another about anything important. We’ve retained that family feeling, but now, for instance, we do use Slack to make sure that everyone is up to speed on everything.
But what’s more striking to me is how many things are remaining the same. I truly believe the leadership team when they promise that we're never going to lose our culture. I believe that.
MW: What are some of the features of that culture that you've seen that seem especially important to you—things that, if they disappeared, would be a real loss?
DC: At Driftwood, the staff and residents always eat meals together, we do a lot of things together, and we don't ever want the clients to feel like the staff is separate from them. It's very integrated. We know so much about every client, and work so much on each case. What we offer is very individualized, in part because we have the time and staffing to do that. No one's ever going to be just a number here. We get creative with every treatment plan, with every discharge plan.
MW: Is there a time of day, or of the week, when the care coordinators get together to share their experiences with one another, to offer moral support, and so on?
DC: Not exactly, because we're all so close. We do have care-coordinator meetings. But we also have three people working together on every shift. So that kind of moral support is naturally given every day, every shift.
MW: If someone was considering residential treatment here—for themselves or for a loved one—what’s the thing you’d most want them to know?
DC: When I came into recovery, I only learned one set of strategies, one set of ideas about addiction and sobriety, and they happened to work very well for me. So I came to Driftwood not knowing much about the clinical side of the programs here. This place has taught me that there are multiple pathways to long-term sobriety. Meeting people where they're at, that’s what guides people into long-term sobriety, right? What worked for me might not work for another person. But something is going to work for them, and the staff at Driftwood is going to be patient and curious and compassionate enough to help them find that thing.