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Epic Opportunities will soon have access to valuable data that will help the agency determine how effectively it is delivering supports to the people it serves and where it could be doing a better job of providing such supports.

Personal Outcome Measures (POM) is a pilot project being spearheaded by Abilities Manitoba, a network of service providers who deliver support to people living with intellectual disabilities. Epic Opportunities is one of 11 agencies taking part in the pilot project which is being funded by the province’s Community Living disABILITY Services (CLDS). As part of the project, people served by the participating agencies are being asked to answer a series of questions on their quality of life with the results being used to help organizations better focus their services and improve the quality of life of the people they serve.

A total of 29 people served by Epic Opportunities, or 20 percent of the total number of people it supports, have been invited to take part in the project. To date, 16 of those individuals have taken part in the interview process being conducted by Abilities Manitoba interviewers. The interviews are expected to wrap up by next fall.

Stacey Forest, Service Development and Outcomes Specialist, joined Epic Opportunities in August to guide the organization’s involvement in the POM pilot project. As part of her role, she will help coordinate the participation of people served by Epic Opportunities. Forest will also assist the organization in analyzing the results when a final report is issued next year and then determine where changes may be required to how it delivers services to members and their families.

“Ultimately, it’s about ensuring the people we serve are living their best lives,” Forest says of the POM model, which was developed by the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).

Each individual who participates in the project is asked a series of questions, aiming to answer 21 specific outcomes. These questions cover a wide range of topics including choice, health, safety, relationships, rights and employment to help measure quality of life. Some of the outcomes being measured include whether:

  • People are respected
  • People live in integrated environments
  • People are connected to natural support networks
  • People choose personal goals

Forest says every effort is being made to protect the anonymity of people taking part in the interviews.

Epic Opportunities initially provided Abilities Manitoba with basic demographic information on everyone it serves, but no names. Abilities Manitoba then provided a list of people it wished to interview based on that information and individuals were free to say yes or no. The final report will contain only raw data and will not identify any individuals by name. Instead, it will simply indicate what the breakdown was in terms of responses to the series of questions asked.

While some of the people asked to be interviewed declined the request, Forest says many of the individuals who were approached appreciated being given an opportunity to share their stories and to have a say in how they will be served going forward.

Forest says the project will be an invaluable tool in helping Epic Opportunities determine how to best serve the people it supports.

“It’s going to give us that big picture of the people we’re serving: are their needs being met and are we being active participants in their life to help make sure their needs are being met. It will also show are we respecting people’s rights, are we restricting people’s rights and not realizing it? Are we realizing it but doing it anyways?” she explains.

“There’s a great value in knowing whether people’s outcomes or goals are being achieved in their lives and that trickles down to the agency. What can we do to make it a sky’s the limit kind of thing for people?”

Even though the project won’t wrap up for some time, Forest says participating agencies are already benefitting from it. Many organizations have shared common experiences and how they deal with specific issues as a result of their participation in the POM pilot project.

That’s one of the things that I really love about Manitoba and working in adult services is that there’s this real sense of collaboration,” she says. “There’s a lot of sharing.”

In addition to her work on personal outcome measures, Forest will assist with the process of responding to all new service referrals inquiries. She is also responsible for meeting with family members and self-advocates, communicating with community service workers and the provincial Department of Families, and helping orientate new home share service providers.

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