The Service Sector:

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As mentioned above, one of the long-standing quandaries in managing Imagine (Imanaging?) has been how Facilitators can do the bureaucratic work needed to comply with regulations, real and imagined, to maintain our relationship with the regional center, handle the emergencies that arise and still maintain presence enough with our clients and their teams to foster a strong, proactive and person-centered culture around the support we are all here to offer our clients.

We have been on a long trajectory to automate as much as possible of the bureaucracy. Our Payroll/Billing specialist and recruiter are two positions we created to reduce the administrative burden on our Facilitators. Our Caresmartz system was purchased in part to make Facilitation more efficient too. Whoops.

If you limit your definition of emergency to those events that are beyond our control, such as a change in a client’s health requiring more intensive support for a while or forever, we typically don’t have more than a handful, agency-wide, in a (non-pandemic) year. If you expand the boundaries to include staffing crunches caused by staff illness and circumstances, those are more common. Our two Client Care Responder (CCR) positions were created to help with those,

It’s only when you include chronic understaffing due to high turnover, slow hiring, and/or poor team dynamics and morale that the job of a Facilitator becomes so typically overwhelming that it becomes unfair to expect Facilitators to follow their duties through to the core expectation that robust teams support clients in a person-centered way. But we have seen that Facilitators who spend time with their teams have less turnover and that those who are most proactive in the hiring process typically fill openings pretty fast.

Other sources of distraction come as a consequence of routine failures to complete communication cycles or to maintain records.

The Facilitator position is very subject to vicious and virtuous cycles. The Operations Manager and Lead Facilitator positions were designed to support our virtuous cycle and reverse the vicious ones.

No-one can do it, but we all can, part II. While it is true that the unpreventable emergencies are rare, they don’t necessarily fall fairly. As I am writing this, one facilitator has three clients on her caseloads whose service needs are being substantially changed by health conditions that emerged in 2023. The other 6, together, have two. Part of refocusing our Facilitators is making sure that each participates in a culture that shares challenge.

As we bring in two new Facilitators and keep some who have been especially generous in supporting their peers, we also have the opportunity to reinforce a key principle of life at Imagine. That nobody is an island, and nobody gets left to drown.



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