The individuals and families who make up our community come from all walks of life and many backgrounds. This means that their expectations vary and the information which they have (regardless of education) ranges from minimal to comprehensive.
Our field is a “service” industry, and the word “services” is often used – disability supports or services, human services, etc. “Touchpoints” are all the ways you connect to your “customer” from start to finish. Sticking with individuals and families, “touchpoints” connotes all the contacts starting with a request for help to the point when the need is met – or when a new path must begin!
In business, a product/service is being sold or bought, but in our field, much of the purchasing is done by a third party, not by the “customer.” In addition, the incentives – or how an agency or state employee gets paid – sometimes don’t reflect the needs of a customer or a positive outcome for them.
Why is this the case? There are many reasons – the biggest one being that state and private agencies are structured around roles and the services which they are providing, not on serving any customer.
You may experience:
- not enough funding to assist in your need regardless of how positive state budget results have been
- staff who may be unresponsive or lack knowledge to make a referral
- people who don’t respond to an urgent need but refer you to emergency
For those and other negative touchpoints, remember that there are others available to react, respond, and provide some level of assistance, even if only a referral, to someone else who may be able to help.
Two sources of referral besides affiliates of The Arc and our office are the local DDS offices (Dept. Developmental Services have service coordinators at each area office) and Family Support Centers. To find your local area DDS office, you can use this list. To find a family support center, you can consult this PDF.
At The Arc, we try to keep up with trends in supports so we can advocate effectively. In the next few weeks, we will release two short surveys – both in response to recent changes in health care and long term supports. The first will be to make sure that constituents have been able to keep or get the health care professionals they need through the Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations recently established. The second survey will ask how annual renewals for personal care attendant services are going as we have a new third-party administrator for PCA and other services. Some emails have come in about cutbacks in hours to individuals with chronic conditions. We want to see if this is an emerging problem.
There are many touchpoints for getting the services you need. We can encourage more understanding and professionalism, but your personal advocacy is a key part of making our service world more responsive.
Leo V. Sarkissian