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Service delivery best practices for domestic violence survivors

July 07, 2021
A case manager holds a client's hands in a display of empathy, exercising a service delivery best practice for domestic violence survivors.

Nonprofit organizations that focus on working with survivors of domestic violence face a specific set of hurdles. These nonprofits often handle delicate situations and also need to meet specific reporting requirements to receive funding.

Knowing and operating with best practices for providing domestic violence survivors with the services they need can provide peace of mind and valuable data to help you deliver more. Here are some considerations to help your nonprofit implement best practices for helping domestic violence survivors.

Effective service delivery starts with effective intake

Understanding that each survivor’s situation is different is the first step in service delivery. Effective case management leads to sustainable change for those you serve, and collecting and tracking data enables you to help make lasting change in their lives. Intake is particularly important to this process. The more information available to your case managers, the better they can serve your clients.

Some information that should be asked upon intake include:

  • Abuser. Ask for the relationship between the client and their abuser and if they live in the same location. Gathering as much information as possible about how the abuser is in the client’s life can help inform how to proceed. For example, if the client is living with their abuser, finding safe shelter is an early priority.
  • Children. Ask if there are children involved in the situation and if the client will be taking the children with them to a safe space. This will help frame the type of services needed.
  • Safe contact information. Ask the client for a safe phone number you can use to reach them, and if it’s safe to leave a message. Being able to keep in contact safely is critical. Your data should tell you whether you can or cannot leave a message to protect the client’s safety.

Keep in mind that effective intake accommodates a wide range of situations. Be prepared to collect a wide range of information to get a full picture of what the client is experiencing to deliver the right services.

Documentation is key

Documenting is vital for your case managers in their day-to-day work. Having accurate, up-to-date records that are readily accessible gives your case managers all the information they need. Not only does it save time, but it allows them to consistently work with the most current information while helping clients. Using case management software makes documenting easy, and it makes information readily accessible.

Here are a few types of data to consider documenting:

  • The number of hours you’ve worked with a single client
  • The number of calls your hotline gets each week
  • How many hospital visits one of your case managers made in one month

Collecting this information will provide useful insight into where you can make the most impact. You can also use the information you have while applying for grants or managing where your grant funds go to. Being able to provide statistics or anecdotal information can help prove your grant proposals’ merit to foundations, increasing your chances of receiving their financial support.

Always follow privacy laws

When it comes to working with domestic violence survivors, privacy is of the utmost importance. Not only is meeting current privacy requirements set by HUD and VOCA imperative for funding opportunities, but case managers can also reassure their clients that their information is only viewed by those who absolutely need access. The law prohibits people from viewing your client’s information without permission, which can help build trust in your organization.

Approach each case with empathy

Working with survivors of domestic violence isn’t easy at times and often requires deep compassion. Additionally, the ability of case managers to remain professional when interfacing with them is essential for ensuring they receive the care they need in an efficient and timely manner.

Part of successful work is also accepting the fact that client and case manager pairings sometimes don’t work out. Keep an open mind when that happens, as finding that “right fit” for your client can really make a difference in their life.

Helping domestic violence survivors

Effective case management is outcome-based. Incorporating best practices, including collecting information for case managers at intake, maintaining thorough documentation, and understanding the human element every case manager brings, will lead to positive outcomes.

Where does your organization stand with these best practices? Nonprofits are ever-evolving, and knowing what to improve upon will bring you closer to making a positive impact on more survivors’ lives. Choosing the right software option for your organization can also play a role in helping you make a bigger impact.

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