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In the contract therapy world, Program Development is discussed frequently, because as therapists we are always be looking for methods to better address the needs of the patients we serve. Additionally, communities we work in are often looking for innovative programs to improve the lives of their residents. However, while intentions are pure, without proper planning, training, and ongoing coaching, it can be difficult to get a new program off the ground. It can be even more difficult to sustain that program once it’s been developed.


Implementing Approaches that Ensure Program Longevity and Maximize Positive Patient Impact

By understanding the inherent challenges that come with program development and implementation, we can utilize a more a systematic approach to ensure longevity of the programs we work so hard in developing and implementing.

If we break program development into 4 stages, we can better understand the process and help ensure success.

  1. Program identification.   It is critical to consider several factors when selecting a new program. You have to take into consideration actual need. This can include the needs of the residents in the community to which you work (ALF, SNF, Life Plan Community), needs of the referral sources, staff, and care providers.

During the program identification stage, you will need to assess readiness. Thing to consider:

  • How well does program fit actual need?
  • How well does the program fit the current initiatives, priorities, and community values?
  • What is the availability of resources – do you have the staffing, supplies, and equipment to implement and sustain the program?
  • What are the expected outcomes if implemented?
  1. Installation phase. By this time, you have identified an appropriate program and this phase is where you acquire or repurpose the resources needed to do the work ahead. This phase can include selecting staff, identifying resources, providing initial training, and assuring access to the needed supplies and equipment.
  2. Initial implementation. This when the innovation or program is being used for the first time. Clinicians and staff are attempting to use newly acquired skills or innovative products. Initial implementation is the most fragile phase because this is when team members are trying new things but the urge to do ‘business as usual’ is tempting to them. In order to sustain change into daily integration, staff will require external support. This could be from a manager or a program champion. Someone to inspire and help them stay focused!
  3. Final implementation. When 50% or more of the intended team members are using an innovation or program accurately with good outcomes, you can consider the program to be in this phase. But beware! Once established, programs are difficult sustain without continue support due to the potential for changes in staff, management, or system changes.

Program develop and growth is a very important part of our jobs as therapists and by looking at it in a systematic way can help ensure elite results for our patients. I encourage everyone reading this to consider — What programs does your team offer and what can be added to enhance your current clinic offerings?


Next Steps

The Clinical Services department of Functional Pathways is here to help guide and support you with program development from identification through final implementation. If you are a current client with questions about a possible or existing program, feel free to reach out to mward@fprehab.com.

If you would like to learn more about Functional Pathways and have questions about what we can do to help support and improve your community, please reach out to info@fprehab.com.

Melissa Ward, VP of Clinical Services | Functional Pathways