Techniques for improving client relations in family planning programs
Simmons, George B.
Demand for children and demand for contraceptives are not independent of the system of supply. And client transactions are the major means for lowering costs. Family planning workers, providers of services and mass media campaigns, are the harbingers of new ideas and new delivery systems that could modify the demand for fertility regulation and patterns of contraceptive use. The authors describe four broad techniques for improving client relations, emphasizing their potential as entry points into program development (systematic change). These techniques are presented as a sampling of experience that can be brought to bear on dysfunctional client relations. Among examples described: Patient flow analysis (PFA). A self-administered time-and-motion diagnosis that allows computerized documentation of patient flow and personnel use in health service clinics. Using relatively unobtrusive data collection, PFA seeks to get a representative snapshot of a program and its dysfunctions, replicating a typical clinic session. Data are later diagnosed and remedies proposed for bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Training and visit (T&V). A managerial approach for dealing with geographically scattered outreach programs. The four main principles of T&V: focus on a few key tasks, frequent in-service training and supervision, regularity and predictability, and face-to-face communication. The T&V model focuses on what workers should be doing with their time in the field to meet client needs. A goal of T&V: to enable all clients to name their worker and the day of the week s/he visits, and identify a few themes from their most recent encounter. Activity planning. The antithesis of T&V, activity planning calls for abandoning rigid time-place-movement schedules and specific messages and replacing them with a fluid work schedule adapted to local conditions. Workers must be well-trained in collecting data, listening and building rapport, and communicating with conviction. The quality of the worker-client relationship is all-important. A weakness is that if the workers have no objective they lose control of the exchange with clients. Training and worker empowerment. Training by itself is not enough for systematic change - training for what? But training can serve as an entry point into organizational development when it is rooted in methodologies that help to develop the participant's technical and interpersonal skills and ability to innovate. But training must be accompanied by changes in the system of supply that supports and facilitates innovation and quality of care. Techniques to improve client relations can address either the client-provider interface directly or the system of underlying determinants. It is important to ask basic questions: Is the idea to fix a single worker-client dysfunction or is it to provide a continuous program for modification and growth? Who will be affected by the change? Whoor what will be responsible for initiating and overseeing the course of action? What are the short- and long-run goals of intervention?
Health Monitoring&Evaluation,ICT Policy and Strategies,Adolescent Health,Poverty Monitoring&Analysis,Geographical Information Systems
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