Flourishing/ Self-Healing Communities
The Vermont Cooperative for Practice Improvement and Innovation, VCPI, is quickly gaining recognition as being an aptly named organization. As you will see throughout this newsletter, there are multiple initiatives underway that support the opportunity for Vermonters to work together in innovative ways to improve the practices and services we are able to offer across multiple settings and modalities of care. The model allows for exponential increases in skills and knowledge, while being cost effective and efficient. Importantly, the directions are informed by those with lived experience and/or in the role of representing advocacy organizations.
As outlined in the project descriptions here and on our website, there are several ways that VCPI plays a role in the success of the initiatives with which we are involved. One of the approaches that has been particularly successful is the development of Learning Communities. Sometimes also called Learning Collaboratives, this method of improving practice is not new. It is a well-researched way of efficiently and effectively producing results. When multiple sites across Vermont are focusing improvement efforts in the same topic area, the opportunity to have a regular and facilitated process for connecting with one another is invaluable. VCPI provides the groups with access to national experts in particular subject areas, and adeptly manages the logistics of coordinating and organizing the process. With those ingredients in place, the participants can focus on the important opportunities to grow and learn and on building a supportive community that will sustain that focus over time. For all of those reasons, VCPI will continue to seek out opportunities to develop learning communities.
One such potential new initiative presented itself just this past week and I’d like to tell you about it. First of all, did you know that there is a county in Washington State that has reduced youth suicides and suicide attempts by 98% in the last 15 years? We all know that here in Vermont and most other states, the suicide rate among adolescents is growing at an alarming rate. Were you aware that similar statistics are popping up in many communities which have chosen to tackle issues such as high school dropout rates, substance use, and arrests?
Have you heard the newest findings in neurobiology, especially as related to early-trauma, and how they are quickly increasing our ability to develop effective interventions? Or that the field of Epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of health, well-being and resilience? Perhaps you’re just finding out that Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype without a change in genotype — which in turn affects how cells read the genes.
Participants in The Flourishing Communities Summit, held December 1st & 2nd at Lake Morey, now know a great deal more about all of this and are gearing up to find ways to spread their knowledge and collaborate to develop exciting ideas for using the knowledge to support improvement in our Vermont communities. Approximately 300 people, representing all geographic areas, professional roles, ages, personal histories and experience with the topic of trauma, spent two days together in an environment carefully orchestrated to actively engage them in the process of learning and planning together. Some of you were there for this experience. The summit featured Laura Porter and a particular framework called Self-Healing Communities. You can learn more about Laura and this approach at http://www.aceinterface.com/index.html
I’m sharing this with you for a couple of reason. When 300 people in our small state get excited about something, you’re likely to hear about it within your own work and will have some foundational understanding of what the buzz is about when it comes your way. My other motive is to begin to think together about the potential role for VCPI in moving this work forward. The summit provided an opportunity for regional groups to begin to build a collaborative process for using the Self-Healing Communities Framework to address challenging issues in their own communities. We didn’t just talk about how that should happen- we actually met in regional groups and planned initial action steps. Momentum in building. Seems to me there will be ways that the Co-op can support these important efforts.
If this topic and potential VCPI focus area is of interest, we would love to hear from you. We can establish an e-mail group to keep us all up to date as the statewide conversation begins to take shape, and then we can morph into some specific planning meetings. Just drop me a line or give me a call!