Who are the “People We Serve”?

10.16.18

This past summer James Barnes and La Keesha Arrington-Vega joined forces on an agency workgroup to make sure that everyone who comes to us gets the care they need.

“When people need help, we won’t turn them away,” Board member and client James Barnes says. “If we can’t meet your needs, then we will find someone who will. The goal is to never leave someone stranded.”

During the recent strategic planning process, staff said they needed more guidance around how to determine a person’s eligibility for our services. So, in the first year of implementing the plan, we formed a workgroup to provide just that. The workgroup included eight staff members, two clients and two board members. 

While the agency uses a federal definition of homelessness, we each interpret homelessness in subtly different ways.

Over the course of several months, the “People We Serve” workgroup developed guidelines to help staff determine who is eligible for our services, how to manage changes in housing situations while receiving care and who is ready to transition to community providers.

Client voice and perspective was an important part of that work. With four years of client advocacy experience, James jumped right in.  “My role in the workgroup was to represent the needs of clients and help staff understand what clients are going through,” he says.

The guidelines are simply that—guidelines. They don’t replace individual judgement or restrict services.

“Our goal is to help people get stable and healthy. If a client is ready to transition into mainstream care, that means we’ve accomplished that,” clinic manager La Keesha Arrington-Vega explains. “Of course, if a client isn’t ready to transition, we won’t make them. We will continue to support them.” 

The guidelines are just one way to help staff and clients talk about options and transitions more easily. Our case management team has also created a referral guide to easily connect clients to community resources. As we work to expand access to services under our strategic plan, you can expect to see more of these types of resources for staff and clients alike!

 

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