A decade ago, I was lucky enough to discover the world of human services. What an amazing profession! Who knew that you could be paid for the privilege of spending time with some of the most remarkable people, supporting them in accomplishing their dreams?
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a variety of settings and roles – as a Day Habilitation Supervisor, a Residential Manager, and working in agency administration. Today, I find myself in MediSked’s Headquarters, thrilled to be part of MediSked’s Support Team, and eager to share my impressions of a person-centered software company from the point of view of a human services professional from a provider agency.
Two things became instantly apparent when I started at MediSked:
- MediSked is extremely focused on person-centered philosophy.
- The collective industry knowledge at MediSked is staggering in depth and breadth.
All the human services agencies I have worked at have been dedicated to emphasizing a person-centered approach. Most people’s first experience with person-centeredness is in the language used in day-to-day conversation. For example: People are not served, they are supported. People aren’t referred to by their disability. We don’t “take people on an outing to the store,” we simply go to the store with them. The idea is that, through language, we reflect the idea that the person is at the center of our thinking – not the disability, program, or agency.
Somewhat foolishly, I thought I would bring that cultural knowledge to my new employer, teaching my coworkers the philosophy of person-centeredness in daily interactions. Instead, I have been delighted to find a workplace so deeply person-centered that I’m the one learning. I have been consistently impressed with not only the larger manifestations of person-centered thinking at MediSked (reflected in the software settings and offerings), but in the daily conversations between MediSked employees.
Just yesterday, I overheard a coworker explaining a design choice to another new employee. It involved allowing people receiving services from an agency having the ability to view their all of their information in MediSked Connect. When explaining these features in MediSked Connect, he did not simply tell her how the software worked, but why it had been designed that way. During that conversation, he perfectly summed up the idea of “nothing about me without me,” a humanizing mantra of person-centered supports, describing the rights of people to be their own primary decision makers. As if that were not impressive enough, the language he used was perfectly respectful, informed, and person-centered. The interaction reflected a culture that expects every employee to understand not only what our industry does, but why it does it.
I was impressed, but I should not have been surprised. The signs were everywhere, both literally and metaphorically: CQL’s Personal Outcome Measures are prominently displayed throughout the building (and, I’m told, have been for a long time – perhaps before I had even encountered them at my former agencies). The new employee training puts a great deal of emphasis on the history of the intellectual and developmental disabilities field. People like Tom Pomeranz were celebrated guest speakers at my former agencies, and not only was his name known to all my new MediSked colleagues, but he’s actually a member of MediSked’s Advisor Council! Many other employees — including senior management and software engineers – have worked in the field. More than that, though, many employees here have loved ones, friends and family, with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and understand the importance of person-centered thinking through lived experience.
There are many things one learns at a provider agency in the I/DD field that one assumes only the agencies and government seem to know: the detailed regulation, the endless jumble of acronyms, the minutiae of billing procedures, the changing needs of an aging population, and so much more. I thought I knew a lot from a decade in the field, but I was not prepared for the level of expertise on display at MediSked. All levels of the industry, from the daily triumphs and struggles of a Direct Support Professional to the highest-level changes coming from CMS, seemed to be understood by the teams at MediSked. The knowledge isn’t hoarded by the experts, either. It is pointedly shared. MediSked Medicaid experts send all employees newsletters updating us on coming regulatory changes. MediSked Solutions teams travel to conferences all over the country and bring back what they’ve learned. Indeed, even this blog has great examples of MediSked experts sharing their knowledge. While technical expertise is highly valued, it is wonderful to see that knowledge of the I/DD field is paramount.
After spending so many years in the IDD field, part of me worried that I might fall out of the loop in my new role. I worried that working at a software company might take me too far from the heart of the field. I could not have been more wrong. MediSked is right at the center of this industry, perhaps more so than any organization I’ve known. I’m relieved to work at a place that takes this work so seriously, and excited to get to work helping our clients improve the lives of so many people!