Sunday, February 6, 2011

You're Not Alone: Collaborating with Other Providers

..... Settle yourself in your seat fellow provider, this is going to be a hell of a ride. I'm glad to have you working with me on this case. Let's see what we can do with and for this client...

I don't always collaborate with clients' providers as there isn't frequently a need to. During intakes we do ask new clients if they're involved with other agencies. Typically clients share this information and if they don't it'll often come up if I continue meeting regularly with a client.

Even when I have the other agencies' info I don't necessarily contact them. To contact the provider a release is needed of course -- the client needs to give permission for me to contact the agency on his behalf. Really it would be beneficial to discuss the care a client receives with another provider if only to understand the other services she's getting, get her insights as to her impressions of the client and their work together and coordinate basic care. This is particularly useful for clients who need more care. Clients who need short term and specific help (applying for a specific benefits program) don't necessarily require a call to another provider. 

Providers do fill in gaps for each other and what can I say, I appreciate it. I apply for this benefits program with a client, while a case manager in another agency advocates on the same client's behalf in physical health issues. I advocate in in one area while my client receives mental health counseling from her provider because I'm not a clinician.

Several situations call for me to contact another provider. If I'm working intensively with a client on one issue and know other agencies are involved it helps to discuss and coordinate her care with another provider when I know she's getting similar advocacy work elsewhere. Maybe another provider has a direct link with public aid office (which Empoder doesn't) so he can focus on working out an issue client has with his medical coverage while I could focus on another area. If a client's asking for help with goods on a regular basis it helps to know if she has received similar assistance from another agency. Sometimes this is the case, sometimes not, but it's good to find this out.

While I work with three coworkers in my department we usually don't work with clients as a team unless it's a particularly intensive client. When our team isn't enough, we look to (or for, if a client doesn't have another resource) another social service agency to cover a need we can't meet. 


Anonymous said...

Usually it helps to have different agencies cooperate, from a client's point of view. Sometimes, it does not. For example, I once was seeing a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) for my autism treatment/counseling, and at the same time receive support at the place I was living. The thing was, the support worker would rarely implement the guidelines they were given from my CPN.

Anatolia said...

I appreciate your continued comments here, Astrid.

I do hear where you're coming from and appreciate the difficulty of the situation you were in. I wouldn't presume to comment about your specific case, but I would certainly say collaboration between agencies needs to be ongoing and productive with client's needs and safety in highest priority. Clients should be as actively involved in their care as possible and have opportunity to have issues about their care addressed regularly (if needed through mediation or even staffing). These thoughts in a nutshell..