Client interview with Dr. Nikki Watkins, VP of Clinical Programs
The San Diego Rescue Mission believes in the inherent worth of every homeless man, woman, and child. Since 1955, when they first opened their doors, they have been providing rehabilitation and discipleship that allow them to achieve their mission of spreading the good news of salvation through Christ by serving the needs of the poor, addicted, abused, and homeless, thus improving the quality of their lives. Programs and services include: multiple residential programs, licensed pre-school, outpatient therapy, recuperative care unit, job training and holiday community feedings.
For social services organizations that depend heavily on donors and don’t have the federal funding like clinical programs who deliver billable services, it’s hard to find money for training. Typically they could only afford to send managers to training and then expect them to pass the information on to staff. Most staff at SDRM had been there for years, many over 15 years, and had received training initially when hired, but very little since then. Sending people out for training just wasn’t feasible from an expense and efficiency perspective, especially with 24 hour services. It’s natural for staff to get a bit rusty after a few years, start doing things the way they always have done them, get comfortable and slip a little in terms of ethics and confidentiality. Many social services programs aren’t licensed with the state and they don’t take federal funds, which meant staff training wasn’t mandated by a regulatory body and therefore not happening every year.
The San Diego Rescue Mission, like many social services organizations, employs primarily unlicensed staff who don’t have degrees in the behavioral health field. This makes training and staying on top of current trends even more important. While payers and accreditation regulations aren’t drivers for training compliance like other behavioral health organizations, Dr. Watkins, VP of Clinical Programs, lists drivers of staff training as issues related to client safety, lawsuits and reprimands by the city or other official for a violation. While these issues haven’t all happened at their site, they are more common than one might think and result in the realization that staff training could have avoided the issue. Thanks to a progressive and forward thinking CEO who wanted to invest in staff training, Dr. Watkins was able to get Relias approved for all full-time direct care staff and they have noticed a difference in quality of care provided.
“We’ve loved Relias. It’s made a difference.”
For the programs that do fall under state licensing boards, Relias has made it easy for them to meet training regulations. Dr. Watkins brought up an added benefit of using the business skills focused courses to help their organization better manage change and improve overall teamwork and effectiveness.