From research to practice: An inspiring conversation with EXIT Youth Hub Supervisor
October 02, 2019
“Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.”
-William Bruce Cameron
What is Research? Cambridge Dictionary (2019) defines ‘research’ as the study of a subject, in detail, in order to discover new information or reach a new understanding. Within Wood’s Homes, we have many people who are passionate about research and data, and Adam Flegel, program supervisor at the EXIT Youth Hub, is one of them. EXIT’s outreach programs started in 1989, and offer a service in which young people (12-24) have walk-in access to on-site staff who provide counselling, crisis support, employment and housing support, community advocacy, as well as health, mental health and addictions support. I had the opportunity to talk with Adam about his programs. It was an inspiring conversation, and it kept me thinking not only about the numbers, but the stories behind them.
- distributed close to 6,000 sandwiches and 1,300 ‘safework kits’ to clients
- provided approx. 250 mobile crisis support and counselling sessions
- served nearly 70 new clients at the Calgary Adolescent Treatment Services (C.A.T.S.) Clinic
In the past year, over 53% of clients who visited our C.A.T.S. Clinic reported having mental health issues; 60% of clients reported having seriously thought about, made a plan or actually tried to end their lives; and 53% of clients reported having been physically, sexually or emotionally abused.
Our research also tells us that the EXIT Youth Hub has demonstrated significant outcomes when addressing the needs of the clients:
- 97% of clients said they were satisfied with the service after completing a survey
- 84% of clients said they felt less distressed during their walk-in sessions
- 88% of clients reported they feel heard, understood and respected
- 85% of clients had reported satisfaction on being connected to community resources
These are very impressive numbers.
With a research mind, I am always keen to analyze data; however, with my social work mind, I also wonder about things that are not being captured by numbers. “Sometimes,” Adam says, “it takes six months to gain trust and develop a relationship with a client before any other work can be done.” Furthermore, he tells me, “Not every story can be told through a number. The real story is in the connection and trust that is built. [They need] someone to lean on, talk to and advocate for them, and be one of the only positive cheerleaders in their corner. This is the part of the job that I most look forward to and embrace every day.”
At Wood’s Homes, research and practice are bonded closely together to identify the needs of our clients and opportunities for the improvement of service delivery, to highlight gaps in knowledge, and to inform the methods of treatment and care for our clients. Behind each number are the efforts that staff members have put in to build a relationship with clients. Behind the data is the advocacy and voice to show the world we care. And lastly, behind the research are all the caring and loving people within the agency that add value and weight to each number.