Person-Centered Outcomes, Not Outputs
The use of person-centered outcomes shifts the definition of quality from the program focus to an individual focus. Outcome measures emphasize responsiveness to individual needs rather than compliance with organizational process or program requirements.
The growing interest in quality enhancement through outcomes, and the resulting attempts to implement outcome measures, have revealed the degree to which organizational process measures remain embedded in definitions of quality. In fact, we continue to confuse the ends (the outcomes that people want in their lives) with the methods, techniques or programs that promote the outcome.
Professional methodologies are confused with outcomes. Excellent medical services, rehabilitation counseling, and adaptive technology are not outcomes. Rather, medical, educational, vocational, social, and technological services are the means to the end. Providers often refer to units of professional service as the outcome. But, the unit of social service is a professional intervention that produces an outcome for an individual.
Finally, outcomes are sometimes associated with physical places. Thus, people expect different outcomes from home, school, work, the hospital, the activity center, or the football stadium. However, the physical location only serves as the arena for the performance of a particular service or professional methodology.
Outcomes can provide great clarity in examining different services, professional methodologies, and places. Outcomes are the constants. Outcome categories remain the same through time and place, across services and professional methodology. The same outcomes can be produced by different services, professional methodologies, or places. In one instance, physical therapy may enable a person to use her environment. In another instance, adaptive technology, or a personal assistant leads to the same outcome.
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