What is the NCI Quality Assessment? Tracking Satisfaction.

May 05, 2013 --- How satisfied with community services are the individuals who have left Developmental Centers? How about others with developmental disabilities who receive services arranged through their Regional Center? How about their families  do they think things are going well? Which Regional Centers do the best to arrange all the different services and supports they are responsible for?

These questions are answered in part through the National Core Indicators (NCI) Quality Assessment project, which assesses consumer and family satisfaction with the services they receive. (NOTE: This is NOT monitoring for health and safety issues  that is a separate function of several agencies.) NCI has developed a survey that looks at about 100 core indicators in the areas of client rights, choice, staff turnover, health care, day programs, living arrangements, friendships, loneliness, incident and mortality reports, exercise, obesity, access to religious services, and many other separate items. The survey is given to Regional Center clients alternating with family members every other year. A minimum of 400 responses from each Regional Center and the DC Movers group are required to reach the statistically significant representative number. All of these surveys are done by a personal interview with trained surveyors, who gather information from the client, family, and staff.

Almost 9,000 California consumers, their families, and staff participated in the last survey. The results from individual groups can be compared with each other. For example, people moving from a DC to a community setting, in comparison to other community clients, tended to have fewer opportunities to make individual choices, but did have higher scores for the healthcare access questions. Both groups were very close in the areas of Relationships, Safety, Service Coordination, Wellness, and Medication.

Thirty-five states use the NCI tool, which allows individual states to compare how they are doing with other states. California is unique, as it has used this tool in each Regional Center, and among the DC Movers, allowing comparisons to be made between the groups, such as between individual Regional Centers. Areas that need improvement, and those that are performing well can be readily identified.

Nationally, NCI information is used to plan future services, direct funding, pinpoint problem areas, and monitor progress. Only former DC residents are part of the project, but the report is still of value to current DC families who may wish to learn about the standing of their Regional Center, which community service options may be problematic and which are rated highly, and what California is focusing on to improve services and supports for individuals with disabilities. More information about NCI can be found at dds.ca.gov/QA/index, or contact the FFF office.