Mainstream Living

Employee Tip - Helping Members Through Change

Over the coming months, there will be continued changes in the way we are funded, and the way we in which we structure our programs.  As with any large scale change, this has the potential to cause confusion and anxiety for both staff and members.  Several changes will come at the same time, and for members, this could mean changes in their case managers, transportation methods, and their staffing patterns.  Adjusting to these types of changes can be difficult for anybody, but may be especially hard for those we serve. 

Listen and Show Concern:
As a staff person, it is always important to listen, but in times of change, the need for this increases.  The members you serve will likely have a lot more questions and concerns they need to voice.  Make sure that you are not only listening, but asking questions when somebody is experiencing change.  Some people will not readily voice their concerns, and they need to know that their support system is interested in hearing their thoughts and perspectives. 

Find Understandable Ways to Explain Changes:
The changes in the works are complicated.  Rather than discussing the politics of the changes or the complicated nature of things like tiers and managed care organizations, start with the practical changes that will affect them personally.  Talk with a member about how he or she may not be riding the bus to get to a day program anymore, or about how he or she will have a different case manager.  This may be an adequate amount of information for a member to begin adapting to these changes.  Some members may want more, in which case, you can try to give explanations for the changes taking place.  Either way, take the time to explain, and have the patience to reiterate or repeat things if needed.

Give Time and Space to Process:
It is understandable for members to become upset, worried, angry, or sad due to changes in their services or routines.  After all, they may be losing case managers with whom they have good relationships, and appreciated the consistency in their services or staffing schedules. It is okay for members to have these negative emotions and work through them.  As staff, you don’t need to fix somebody if they are feeling negatively, but rather be there for them if they need to process emotions.  Some people will want to process with you, and others will want to process alone.  Either way, be there for them if they need you.

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