CPWD again shows progress with a focus on results
By Tim Wheat
This year’s “704 Report” shows more clearly the emphasis on accuracy and outcomes that we began two years ago. The 2012 Federal report undoubtedly shows that we are working with people to accomplish their goals and we are focusing on outcomes over effort.
The highlight of the 2012 report is the consumer goals. This year CPWD reported that consumer’s set twice as many goals as in 2011 and that goals accomplished expanded by more than three times. Most CPWD consumer’s have more than one goal, which helps us to track and understand what people with disabilities want and need through from the Independent Living Center.
Another highlight of the report is our outreach. CPWD has expanded services to people with hearing loss by 133% over last year and we nearly doubled the number of consumers in Adams County. Now Adams County makes up about 15% of CPWD’s overall consumers. Although are emphasis is on outcomes, we have greatly expanded the number of services we are reporting. This year CPWD provided 2,608 Independent Living services an increase of 53% over what we reported in 2011.
CPWD also is reporting this year a goal success rate of over 50%. Last year our success rate was 27%; in 2010 it was 19% up from a low of 10% in 2009. Our shift from attempting to report big numbers of people has steered CPWD to focus on the results of our consumers. The higher success rate this year is a reflection of the increased independence in our community. The low results in the past were mainly due to reporting interactions with individuals, but not concentrating on value and outcome of our interactions.
Last year at this time I wrote about the annual federal report that CPWD submits at the end of the year. When we adopted our new emphasis on accuracy and outcomes we honestly reported a drop in people served by 48% and were worried that funders and bureaucrats would not understand the change. We were mainly afraid, in a time of shrinking budgets that the shock of such a large decrease would be seen as lack of performance. However, I believe the direction toward reporting outcomes has made us stronger and provides a much better idea of what a Center for Independent Living does.
This year CPWD is reporting a 15% overall drop in consumers; but within that decrease is a 25% rise in the number of new consumers and we “carried-over” 30% fewer people than last year. I hope this shows an end to the stagnation of records in our report and that CPWD is making a solid difference in people’s lives and in our community.
Still the numbers can be discouraging; going from 664 to 565 looks like a step backward. Actually this change represents CPWD’s new focus on real numbers. In the past our database would keep track of anyone and we “opened” a Consumer Service Record (CSR) for them. Literally thousands of people contacted us and successful or not we had no reason to “close” their record. We had no reason to keep it open either, except maybe years later they may have another issue and there was the CSR ready to go. We also had a bias about closing, it sounds so negative and final.
The true advantage to real numbers however is that it better describes what we do and who works with CPWD. The numbers we report now are people we know and are currently working with. The fact is we have much more demand than CPWD can supply, but that is more evident now with our commitment to real numbers and reporting outcomes. Staff spends more time, and more quality time with each individual. The staff can use the record to “tell a story” about each individual’s struggle toward independence rather than just list services and time.
And the closed file problem is gone. If we don’t work with someone in the reporting period, we don’t report it, but we don’t have to close their file for this fact to be in our reports. We also don’t have to talk with people about what this means because closing your file has an unwanted connotation while achieving your goal is certainly what we want.