The value of shared learning between clients

Since our founding in 1976, the OMNI Institute has invested in shared learning—the act of working together to achieve a common objective. For us this means everything from bringing our team together for a lunch-and-learn on a specific topic, to establishing time for a best practice group to share-out their expertise on a topic with a client through a webinar. We know that we all can learn, share, and grow by being open to the new ideas that come from another. 

Shared learning was on full display last week as OMNI welcomed our partners from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) to our Denver offices to kick-off their State Opioid Response (SOR) project, which OMNI supports with evaluation and technical assistance. The SOR project will address opioid use disorder across the Commonwealth, including strategies targeting prevention, treatment, and recovery.  

In addition to engaging in focused evaluation planning time, members of the OMNI team were able to drop in, listen to our partner, share their knowledge and experience from working with other clients, and take away learnings from the front-lines of the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic and how it impacts Virginia’s diverse rural, suburban, and urban communities.  

This exchange of information was particularly poignant when the Virginia and OMNI teams were joined by other partners, such as the Colorado Prescription Drug Consortium, and treatment providers working here in Colorado to discuss the current opportunities and challenges of addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery in each state. 

Through these discussions, our partners in Virginia and Colorado were able to compare emerging substance use trends in each state; share strategies and resources for taking a systems level approach to addressing the opioid crisis; and discuss the impact of local level conditions on each of their work. One example of these conditions was a discussion on marijuana legalization, and how this has shaped the work of treatment providers in Colorado. These insights were particularly helpful for the DBHDS team, as Virginia begins to plan for the potential impact of future legalization in their own state on behavioral health programs.

“[They] gave us a great peek into conditions that we can potentially anticipate in Virginia if and when marijuana is legalized. It was a great snap shot of what y’all are dealing with in Colorado that can really help us to prepare for what we might be dealing with as well,” said Angela, the Recovery Coordinator for Virginia’s SOR project.  

In addition to sharing their own experiences in the field of substance use disorder, these cross-client meetings also allowed both sides to share some of their common challenges. “It’s good to hear that someone shares the same frustrations as we do…It’s good to hear we are not alone,” said Patrick, the SOR Treatment Coordinator with Virginia’s DBHDS.

Finally, this visit allowed our team to lean into our core value of Connection; providing opportunity to think creatively together.

“I cannot tell you how important the human interaction with OMNI has been. It helped me and my team understand your scope of your work and what it takes to produce the high-quality product you’re known for,” said Mike, SOR Project Manager for Virginia’s DBHDS. “It was a constant exchange of information which is going to help both of us in the long run. This was important, it is going to give us such a lead up on the final product.”

“We always try to visit our out-of-state clients on site, but don’t often have them come to us. It’s been really nice because we hear different things when our clients talk to each other than when we talk to our clients individually. And the in-person interaction, you can’t beat that,” said Katie Gelman, vice president of public and behavioral health at OMNI.

At OMNI, we cultivate relationships, believe in the power of collaboration, and see ourselves as a part of something larger. By creating the space for this vendor/client and inter-client dialogue to take place last week, and engaging deeply in mutual learning with those we serve, all parties came away with a better understanding of the work ahead and a deeper and more meaningful individual connection that makes great work and collaboration possible.