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Research: Trauma-Informed Organizations

Change Package: Transparency


Sharing information & expectations

Operating in a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. The reason or logic behind an action can be clearly described.

Understanding objective/measurable truth and the role of perception

Subjective perception depends on one’s opinions, beliefs, or experiences and may not be based on measurable evidence within scientific or mathematical field, yet feels real to the individual; whereas objective truth is confirmed by science and widely-accepted as scientific fact.

Staff Experience

  • Develop a written policy about the communication mechanisms that update staff, consumers, and families who are unavailable or absent during meetings.

  • Draft a written statement and reminder from leadership that encourages staff to feel safe expressing opinions and concerns at work, including disagreeing with decisions made by those in authority.
  • Ensure all executive leadership signs a written statement that expresses their commitment to staff and consumers about how decisions are made.

  • Schedule and send out regular reminders about the program’s commitment to TI principles and the process for acknowledging behavior, practices, or policies that do not align with these principles.
  • Ensure a formal process is in place for executive leadership to communicate details about all upcoming changes, even seemingly minor ones, that impact staff’s work, including the rationale and implementation steps.
    • Develop a review process for written or oral communication that includes a review by a staff person from another non-leadership position/role. The purpose of soliciting feedback from non-leadership staff is to increase readability, perspective, clarity, and understanding.

  • Provide small group or one-on-one coaching for staff on how to:
    • Inform consumers about why questions are being asked.
    • Conclude each consumer interaction with information about what comes next.
  • Coach staff on how to communicate to consumers about procedures for maintaining consumer confidentiality and the purpose of confidentiality (to maintain safety).

  • Ensure executive leadership clearly communicates details about all upcoming changes, even seemingly minor ones, that impact staff’s work, including the rationale and implementation steps.
  • Train leadership to use language that affirms staff engagement and input, e.g., “Because of feedback we received from staff, we’ve made XYZ changes.”

Consumer Experience

  • Develop a formal process for how to solicit, respond to, and incorporate feedback from consumers on all existing and newly-developed policies and procedures.
  • Create space to discuss with consumers results from staff and consumer surveys.

  • Develop a written policy that establishes parameters for self-disclosure.
  • Develop a written policy that outlines who is eligible for services.
  • Create a written policy outlining expectations of consumer behaviors and potential consequences, including aggression towards others and verbal and physical abuse.

  • Find methods to communicate and remind consumers that they are encouraged to communicate with staff when they do not agree with a rule or policy at the program.
  • Identify a person responsible for leading efforts to communicate results of staff and consumer surveys.
    • Solicit feedback from staff and consumers about different methods for sharing this information.
  • Frequently remind consumers they have the right to express their concerns.

  • Create a procedure, including identifying a staff lead, for updating the staff directory,
  • Dedicate time in staff and team meetings to discuss staff and consumer survey results.
  • Develop a procedure that accurately assesses wait times. Evaluate wait times for a sample size of consumers; adjust processes for more accuracy if needed.

  • Create a staff directory that includes names, faces/photos, contact information/phone number, role(s), and responsibilities. Work with staff to determine how to make this most readily accessible, and ensure staff with trauma histories are comfortable and protected.
  • Develop an accessible resource for all staff to access information about current and most recent changes to organizational processes and decisions/actions (e.g., meeting minutes).
  • Develop, post, and make accessible “Consumer Rights and Responsibilities” in multiple languages.
  • Provide staff badges in which the first name is large and easy to read and includes the staff’s job title.

  • Ensure training is offered to all staff on best practices for communicating to a variety of developmental levels, learning needs, and mental or physical health conditions.
  • Offer training with roleplays on how to receive feedback nondefensively.
  • Train staff on the different types of self-disclosure, the impact and benefits of different types of self-disclosure, and how to determine the appropriate level of self-disclosure.
  • Train staff on the value and importance of sharing accurate information (versus most convenient) with consumers.
  • Train staff on how to ensure consumer feedback is viewed through a trauma lens, with empathy and without judgment.

  • During supervision, explicitly ask for any feedback, questions, concerns, thoughts, or suggestions about results from consumer and staff surveys.
  • Train and coach staff to explain to consumers the reasons and processes for each service received and how and why their health information will be shared with others.
  • Coach staff on how to give consumers explicit options to feel safer with self-disclosure, which may include environmental or social supports (e.g., having a person of their choice present or asked to leave the room), answering only some questions, or answering questions later.
  • Coach front desk/reception staff on how to provide accurate wait times for consumers and how to determine and respond when an event requires more time.

  • Explore and work through challenges in being transparent about the program’s operations, upcoming changes, and decision making.
  • Model inclusive decision-making by talking to teams about upcoming projects or decisions and bringing their feedback to leadership.
  • Dedicate a training for leadership on how to ensure all consumer feedback is viewed through a trauma lens, with empathy and without judgment.
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