Let’s face it, sometimes government agency systems can be… frustrating? daunting to navigate? Some might even say demoralizing to the very people who need the services the most. Clients or citizens often find themselves being passed along from one agency program to the next, having to repeat their story multiple times – and ultimately feeling like they are the object of the programs, rather than who the programs are there to help and serve.
But what if there were a better way? Instead of moving through a gauntlet of multiple agency staffers who only look at the individual’s needs from one program’s perspective, what if we looked at the whole person, and identified their challenges and resource needs accordingly? What if the person needing those services was listened to, consulted and considered when designing what programs and services he or she needs?
Person-Centered Case Management strives to do just that.
While not a new concept, by keeping the focus on the client or individual, Person-Centered Case Management strives to encourage individual empowerment and ownership of their situation, making the client an active participant in improving their living situation. While this approach has been actively discussed in the disabled and aging communities, applications can be seen in probation, community supervision programs, and even court case management.
- Their approach for identifying requirements and selecting an implementation approach,
- How they are revisiting their business processes to ensure they fully leverage their new technical capabilities,
- Where they are going in the coming years as they continue to expand their implementation.
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): You’ve seen a number of organizations implement transformational technology programs that allow them to create a person-centered case management system. Can you share some examples of what the business impetus for such changes usually is?
George Casey: A person-centered case management approach goes beyond any system solution implemented. It comes from a culture within an organization that values providing services to unique individuals and allows the individual to help determine what success looks like for each case. We often see frontline employees and case managers driving the conversation for a person-centered case management system as it allows them to better serve the individuals they are working with on daily basis. The catalyst for change is when an organization realizes that their technology solution is causing them to focus on a case file instead of on a relationship. The technology programs are simply an outflow of this desire to place relationships as the center focus and utilize the proper technology to support this priority.
A project does not happen in a vacuum
and impacts people both inside and outside of the agency.
JCH: What organizational impacts have you seen when public safety or justice organizations implement these types of technological solutions?
George: The impact and benefits of a person-centered approach touch everyone involved, from the individual all the way to external organizations. The individual served feels heard and valued as part of a team instead of a just another case file. The case manager feels empowered to do their job and able to focus on the relationship with each individual providing the best service possible through collaboration. Executives and managers now have a streamlined and unified system for reporting allowing them to pull data quickly and consistently across the organization.
The opportunity to have external organizations add value directly into the solution allows for quicker turnaround of information and reports for both organizations. The technology solution is designed to allow each person both inside and outside of the organization to focus on what is important to see the individual succeed.
JCH: What made the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs project so successful? What can other agencies learn from how WA VA implemented their project?
George: There a number of things that lead to Washington Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) being a successful project. The main reason the project was successful was WDVA made a conscious choice that they would dedicate themselves to implementing a person-centered case management approach. Their commitment led them to go through a rigorous year-long process of requirements gathering and general design for all 20 of their separate programs.
Reviewing each of the 20 programs was no easy task but it allowed them to have a deeper understanding of how the person-centered approach would impact each individual within the organization. By meeting with each program, they gained not only understanding of how the person-centered approach would impact the program but also unique considerations from each program. With the requirements and general design in hand, they were able to create a well thought out RFP with a clear direction and goal for the system. The commitment throughout the organization was seen all the way through the project with engagement from both frontline employees as well as executives.
JCH: If an agency were intrigued by this capability, what factors or considerations would you encourage them to think about before engaging in this type of a project? What makes a project go well? What can people do to sidestep any foreseeable issues?
George: Making the conscious choice to commit to the project and often a shift in culture is one of the best ways to lay a foundation for a successful project and something that WDVA did early on in their process. A project does not happen in a vacuum and impacts people both inside and outside of the agency. Understanding who will be impacted by a change and communicating with them is key to sidestepping issues. The decision to see the project through to the end allows you spread the word throughout the agency and other impacted parties making the project smoother because you have buy-in and understanding from those impacted.