For several years I supervised in a partial hospitalization program, where it was common work to have to engage a new family, argue with the insurance company about some obscure billing error, coordinate transportation for an upcoming community outing, and figure out how to deal with the violent outbursts actively occurring in the program when you are (invariably) understaffed for that day.
This is the reality of running a direct care program – it’s fast paced, chaotic work, that keeps your adrenaline running.
It’s not just in mental health facilities that supervisory work is so dynamic and challenging. In managed care, for instance, clinical supervisors are regularly tasked with managing crisis situations with high profile members who are shuffling between providers while being an active safety risk, while simultaneously the computer system is going down, and some new initiative has to be implemented perfectly or there will be a lawsuit. And in child welfare, supervisors of front line workers navigate complex reporting and accountability system, while children’s lives are literally hanging in the balance.
It’s exciting, and trying work to be a program level supervisor. It requires flexibility, speed, humanity … and frankly, support, to be done right. As a supervisor you are keeping the program moving, doing its job, no matter what comes up.
Amidst all these pressures, it is essential that a supervisor find appropriate time and tools in order to gain an “overhead” view of their program. If your clinical insight is limited to what you typically see as a supervisor, it will be primarily crisis oriented. With that comes a focus on the short term, on limiting risk, and on perpetuating a “no news is good news” management model. These are all important things, but the clinical outcomes management of a program is much broader than the next crisis. It also includes long term mental health recovery, functioning deficits that when addressed could reduce the frequency of crises, understanding the supports and strengths that your clients bring to their care, and a multitude of other factors that must be attended to, if true recovery is to be made possible.
This is one of the biggest reasons we at CDR have tools, trainings and coaching sessions for program supervisors. Many organizations implementing TCOM systems attend to the frontline that scores the tools, and the leadership that reviews the highest-level data, but we have found that one of the most essential levels that needs support is program level supervisors. It is at the supervisor level that you have the middle channel, connecting the front line work, with leadership. Supervisors ensure scoring is done well, and that the fruits of data insights are put into action. They also ensure timelines are managed well, and technological bugs are identified and fixed quickly. Most of all, when these supervisors start to understand the TCOM data generated in their program, they are the ones in the best position to shift the program’s functioning to achieve the outcomes that everyone is aiming for.
The key tool for supervisors is the Supervisor Workstation. At it’s simplest, this visualization tells you the typical profile of your program’s clients upon entry, and upon leaving the program. Then, using the multiple filters and slicers built in, you can gain insights to dynamics and types in the program.
When we first train supervisors on the Supervisor Workstation, we go slowly: walking them through the dashboard so that they can ascertain if the data matches their experience. Supervisors always find this process illuminating and rewarding. Often, much of the data substantiates their experiences of their program: this builds faith in the TCOM tools ability to capture aspects of the program that are important, and accurate. Supervisors will often be surprised with the precision of what is identified as well. That it’s not just saying true things about their programs, but distinct things that they didn’t even realize the tool can pick up. And this just begins the process of surprises, because as they look at this data more, and begin to choose filters and slicers, they are able to see their program in new ways that are illuminating: risks they didn’t know were so prevalent, subpopulations with unique needs, length of stays variabilities … the examples are truly endless and unique for each program. Supervisors quickly learn that the TCOM tool is not just something they have to make their frontline staff score, and it’s not just for sharing with clients at the individual level, but is a tool for them to see their program, and to map its course.
If you are interested in seeing more about how the workstation can be used in supervision practices, please take a look at our training videos, where we regularly provide real-world case examples of how a Supervisor Workstation was used to help a supervisor improve their outcomes management in their program.
Whole Program Dashboard
Traditional TCOM Reports for outcomes reporting
Intricate Drill Downs and Filters
Absolute versatility in analytic insights