From Quality to Revolution

Posted on October 31, 2013

What a great week in Houston!  Between a great Trauma Informed Care Session at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council Regional Training and a fun and energetic crowd for Motivational Interviewing at Harris Health, I have a lot of new friends in Houston and around Texas.  Also let’s welcome 40 new members to our community. 
I want to finish the discussion of quality and transition into our next topic in this post.  In my previous post I made the argument that we need a new approach to quality improvement.  We need to see the “error” we work to eliminate as primarily problems created by the society in which our clients live.  Taking this view, we also need to look for larger solutions to the reasons our clients seek our services in the first place.  Quality needs to transcend our walls, services and silos and become about collaborative efforts to “fix” the problem inherent in our communities.
To make this paradigm shift (or as my new friend Jon from Baltimore put in a recent comment “a decadent slice of paradigm-shift pie to chew on”), we need to educate our communities on the reality facing our clients.  The errors we have been discussing in recent posts (trauma, domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness, etc.) result from dysfunction in our society and not weaknesses in our clients.  The most harmful conception our society has is that people choose to be addicts, homeless, poor, unemployed, etc.  We have developed a social structure that puts blame on the individual and expects the individual to wake up tomorrow and change their life without the resources needed to make this incredibly difficult transition.
On the rare occasion we take a look at larger causes we end up blaming systems like “entitlements,” teacher unions, bad parenting or broken mental health systems.  The last place we look is inward when we are the ones responsible for the pain.  Labeling those struggling with generational poverty and racial discrimination as entitled shows a disgusting lack of insight; blaming teachers when educational achievement is clearly correlated with the income level of the parents is scapegoating; blaming a grossly underfunded mental health system for tragedies like Sandy Hook and then not doing a damn thing to fix the system is a pathetic and weak attempt at misdirection.
My friends, we have the truth and the responsibility to educate our communities.  We must take up the cause of revolution for the sake of our clients, our communities and the future of our society.  We know what our clients need to transform their lives.  We know that a dollar spent on prevention saves seven dollars in treatment/services later.  We know that we need to stop managing societal error and create a critical mass to fix the real problems.
In the last several months I have traveled the country from Massachusetts to Hawaii and know one 
thing for sure: We have the passion and knowledge to lead this transformation.  This revolution of thought and action will not happen in Washington it will happen when we bring the passion we give to our work and connect it to educating our communities.  It will not be easy.  We won’t have enough money, enough time, or enough exposure…but we transform lives every day!    We are experts on transformation, on creating miracles with very little or nothing!  Over the next couple months my goal is to create the energy and information we need to start this revolution.  I invite you to take this journey with me as only together can we make the real change that our clients and communities need to truly heal.

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