Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

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Hello. I am Julie James, and I like to talk. More than that, I like to listen, and I hear a lot of stories.

For six years, I was the Options Counselor at the Metrowest Center for Independent Living in Framingham, Massachusetts. When I started, Options Counseling was an Aging and Disability Consortium test program with three sites. Our mission was to keep people at risk of institutional placement from actually ending up in one. The biggest risk of institutional placement was–is–the post-hospital rehabilitation time in a nursing home. Many people ended up too disabled to return home, or this was the common assumption. It was exciting to challenge this assumption, and I did it every single day of those six years.

Over time, we realized a few things. One was that overcoming financial structures and bureaucracy–not to mention sheer tradition–was going to be a huge challenge. There has been some progress, through the Affordable Care Act and more emphasis on patient-centered care. But there have been restrictions also in funding. Too often the push against institutions comes in the restriction of benefits in the institution without replacing that funding in the community.

The other challenge was simply exposure. We could help people tap into resources, but telling people that we were there was not as obvious as it seemed. Outreach quickly became the biggest part of the job. For me, it  was also the fun part. There are amazing professionals in hospitals, doctor’s offices, town offices, etc. I love making connections that create a community.

In my work, I saw many overlaps in the difficulties people face in their lives, particularly when it came to their interactions with the healthcare system and the human services system.  Without a way to accurately collect data, I created Only Anecdotal to tell some stories about the human side of healthcare policies–especially long-term care policies.

I imagine that any story may sound familiar to anyone who has been in a similar situation.

Likewise, you may have been on the other side of similar interaction, as a professional. And in this case, I admire your compassion and commitment, and the balancing act you maintain day after day.

In August 2014, I changed jobs, and now am the Consular Officer at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston. Moving into the diplomatic world brings my past life in languages back around, but I am still engaged in what my supervisor first described to me as “social services for Canadians in the United States”. We see similar situations, more of them, actually. It is always a question of boundaries, and how to cross them.


Written by Only Anecdotal

4 May 2012 at 10:01pm

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