Fw: Re: united ways /outcomes / listening to the client

H. C. Covington @ I CAN! America (@)
Sun, 30 May 1999 11:42:39 -0500

----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Hardie <jhh@IME.NET>
Sent: Thursday, May 27, 1999 9:44 AM
Subject: Re: united ways /outcomes / listening to the client


        We believe our work is valuable. We "know" our work is valuable. We can
"see" that our work is valuable. Aren't, we are being asked to measure
the subjective experience and qualitative value of our work in terms of
positive outcomes in the lives of our clients/ patients / customers. One
piece of which is "bad stuff avoided", bad choices not made, lives not
lost. Families kept together.

        But by that measure, sending the victims of domestic violence - the
mother and children - back into the home of a violent abuser certainly
looks good on paper doesn't it? ... and since they are terrified of
testifying - no charges filed - problem solved!

        Look at all of those avoided public welfare, homeless shelter,
childcare and non-profit service delivery costs ... and after all as a
recent sports figure noted, DV is a private matter isn't it? Male judges
and police Officers did it for years ... until folks like the San Diego
DA's office started treating DV as a crime.

        And the only way THAT happens is that agencies and MEN had to learn how
to listen, to hear clients - we had to listen to the women and the
children and to those strident voices of safe house advocates - we had
to listen to the qualitative experience of the victim in order to change
the service delivery system to be more responsive and effective.

        Dr Kubler-Ross did the same thing when she invited the terminally ill
patient into the med. school classroom - it transformed our qualitative
services in death and dying.

        And that qualitative experience is measurable - IF you talk to and
listen to the client / patient and NP Customer. But you have to believe
that the client / patient / customer has something to teach you - and
that puts the patient / client on par as a peer.

        If we want to measure qualitative service effectiveness, why do we
continue to keep activist patients off boards, off of allocation panels,
out of agencies and the classroom - except during our initial clinical
training, when we do not yet have the credentials, still see ourselves
as peers, identify with the patient and client, and acknowledge learning
more from the patient than providing service.

        Why does that stop? Where in the process does the I/Thou become

        Because it certainly does. My sense is that we should look less
defensively at those who would ask us to measure our work -
qualitatively - and more at our own human services delivery culture of
subliminal patronizing, condescending, ingratiating, compartmentalizing
(sorry our program only funds left feet on alternate wednesdays)
polarization driven often by regulations, overwhelming burnout and
casework overloads.

        The truth for many of us is that we are simply overwhelmed - at
personal level - by the morass, by the pain, by the huge abyss of
heartfelt and unmet needs - so we shut down and go about our
compartmentalized lives, check our email, have a family cookout -

        Oh, that many of our clients / patients could do the same - but then
they do, and we call it schizophrenia, dissociative behavior, paranoid,
neuroses. We have names for what THEY do. Do we know the names that THEY
have for what WE do?

        They certainly would closely match the George Carlin seven word list
closely ... and it's hard to hear that isn't it - at a board meeting. So
they never get invited to dinner ... and never get heard, and we
continue to measure our work - as in Domestic Violence in terms of body

        And as you noted at the end "qualitative work with qualitative results"
STARTS with listening to the qualitative (read measuring) experience of
the client, the patient and the customer.


>Tay Landry wrote:
I find many groups are just making up numbers they pull out of the air,
not that they are not valid numbers, but they don't reflect the true
impact that agency is having on the community or the clients.  No
quantitative data gathering tool can, it is
> Tay

Jon Hardie


Jon Hardie / in2itv
Community-based NP Consulting & Circuit Riding
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