Some 97 percent of participants agreed the program increased their awareness of poverty.
By Margery Weinstein
At CareSource, understanding how to make a difference in the lives of its more than 852,000 members means being able to appreciate the challenges they face on a daily basis. To achieve that appreciation, CareSource challenged its employees to connect with its members through training that provides a view of life from members’ perspectives.
CareSource collaborated with Think Tank Inc. to offer “A Walk in My Shoes—A Poverty Simulation,” which simulates the experience of living with the social and economic challenges its members face. CareSource shares key elements of the program, along with feedback from participants:
During four 15-minute “weeks,” employees try to obtain basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget as they interact with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, teachers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers, and others.
Of the more than 250 employees who participated in, or volunteered to facilitate the simulation, many described the experience as “heart-wrenching, devastating, frustrating, inconceivable, and eye-opening.”
Quantitative evaluation results indicate 97 percent of participants agreed the program increased their awareness of poverty, promoted open dialogue around poverty issues, and would positively impact member interactions.
After participating in the simulation, CareSource staffers placed a greater focus on educating members about how to use the health system appropriately.
Because the Poverty Simulation received such an overwhelming response by employees, CareSource sponsored the poverty simulation as a part of its health care reform event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in October 2009. On evaluations from the event on Capitol Hill, 86.7 percent said the poverty simulation showed the challenges those in poverty face in receiving access to care; 93.3 percent thought the poverty simulation realistically portrayed the choices those in poverty must make when deciding between necessities and health care; and 87.6 percent believed the simulation illustrated the need for improved access to care for all Americans.
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