Measuring Post-Discharge Outcomes to Improve Program Effectiveness
Programs can often demonstrate success through symptom reduction while youth are in residential programs; however, we believe that real success is gauged by functional outcomes that are sustained after youth return to their families and communities. Since January 2020, St. Mary’s has collected outcomes data for former residential clients at regular intervals. We are interested in the following questions:
• What happens to our clients after discharge?
• Do client outcomes vary by program?
• Why do some clients return to our care within 12 months?
• Can we predict which clients will do well, and which will struggle, after discharge?
To answer these questions, we have devised a systematic approach to contacting former clients. Using a standard tool, we obtain information from former clients in key domains (home, school, community, physical and mental health) at 6, 9, and 12 months’ post-discharge. We analyze this data, and combine it with information about the client’s tenure at St. Mary’s, including demographic data and details about their treatment. We report regularly on the results to agency leaders and community partners.
The poster will focus on how we planned and executed this project. The poster will summarize the latest research on evaluating outcomes. We will outline a practical plan for starting an outcome research project, providing examples from our own project and sharing tools and best practices. A sustained emphasis is placed on finding research, tools, and partners online to help smaller agencies get an outcomes program up and running. Finally, we will provide a quick overview of the results we are getting, show how we are using the results to improve program quality, and demonstrate how we have engaged agency leaders and community partners in this project.
This project is driven by our desire to improve program effectiveness, engage with community partners, participate in public policy discussions, and prevent or reduce recidivism.