Sunday, August 9, 2015

DDS Director Nuss Responds

After my last post I was asked by a reader what could be done to help strengthen and retain quality providers.  I posed that question to DDS and received a lengthy response from the director.  Surprised by the comprehensiveness of her message, I asked if I could quote her in my blog, which she agreed to.  So here it is (her words in italics):

I fully support your sentiment that we all need to demand high quality services from those who provide supports to our DC residents with intellectual disabilities.  It has to be something everyone embraces and that is always the hard part as you know.  We first have had the task of trying to raise expectations and providing training and education to our staff, providers and stakeholders about what “good services” actually means and looks like.  For D.C. that meant more than a clean home, food to eat and compassionate care.  Initially when I got here I think people were happy to gain that.  For the last eight years we have transformed our service system to one that at least expects and requires in rules and consequences that supportive and habilitative services be delivered, good healthcare be coordinated and maintained and health and safety be protected.  In the last two years we have immersed our staff in what Person-Centered Thinking really means, what our role is to advance rights, self-advocacy, choice and meaningful community inclusion.  And of course the Family Support Community of Practice has opened our ears and solidified our commitment to real stakeholder engagement and leadership by families and people we support to really shape the system of the future- today.

But despite this progress, the day to day reality for someone is only as good as the staff and organization is that provides the supports and services; and good outcomes only achieved when the people we support, family members, government personnel, community members and the provider agencies all demand, each and every day, that higher expectations are understood and valued, are capable of being delivered, and conversely low expectations are rejected in a loud, clear and consistent voice.  If we all worked each day to make that day an everyday, then we would feel confident that the good providers would grow, others would come and stay and those who don’t embrace the values and have the capacity to manage to those values would truly wither and die on the vine. 

As always, thank you for your advocacy.  I am confident D.C. will continue to demonstrate progress and its firm commitment to becoming a better, person-centered, inclusive and outcome orientated system of services and supports each day.

I don’t know if this makes me feel any better about the unintended transition to a new provider that we’re experiencing, but in general I agree with her that continued improvement will take effort from all of us, on a lot of fronts, and there’s still a long road ahead.  On Tuesday I’ll reach the one-year mark for my blog, and I’m sticking with it.  I hope to find you on the road with me.

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