Last month, I traveled back and forth between the United States and Canada several times. First, I was in Edmonton working with several hundred dedicated social workers, case managers, and therapists at The Family Centre. A week later I traveled to Saskatoon, spending two days talking about outcome-informed clinical work at the Addiction Professionals Association of Saskatchewan annual conference (Photos below are from the APASK meeting. The first during the presentation, the second with Ruth and Laurel).
The evening following this event, I flew to Calgary where I spent the day with the clinical crew at Calgary Counseling Center. I caught a red-eye home to Chicago and then returned to Canada the following week stopping over first in Vancouver for a workshop on drug and alcohol treatment sponsored by Jack Hirose & Associates and then continued on to Calgary where I met with the staff and managers of each program that comprises Aspen Family and Community Network Society.
The reason for all the frenetic activity? A perfect storm has been brewing for some time that is culminating in a tidal wave of interest in using outcomes to inform and improve behavioral health services. First and foremost: vision. Specifically, key thought and action leaders not only embraced the idea of seeking feedback from consumers but worked hard to implement outcome-informed work in the settings in which they work: Bill Smiley at The Family Centre, Robbie Babbins-Wagner at Calgary Counseling Center, and Kim Ruse at Aspen Family and Community Network Society. Second, as I’ve been warning about for over a decade, one province in Canada–Alberta–passed an initiative which links future agency funding to “the achievement of outcomes.” Indeed, “outcome” is identified as “the central driver for both case work practice and allocation of resources.” Third, and finally, economic times are tough. Payers–be they clients, insurance companies, or government bodies–want proof of a “return on investment” for the money spent on behavioral health services.
Needless to say, it was an inspiring month. I managed to capture some of that in an interview I did with the director of the Calgary Counseling Center, Robbie Babbins-Wagner. In it, she describes “why” she and CCC staff are committed to measuring outcomes as well as reviews the challenges involved. Take a look: