The People Talking to People project (PTP) is an independent quality assurance program for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) that helps to improve the system for the people it serves.
As the Director of Quality Improvement and Systems Change at The Arc Tennessee, Frank Meeuwis supervises nine Regional PTP interviewing teams. Comprised of 27 part-time employees who are self-advocates and family members of people with disabilities, these teams interview a random sample of persons receiving services through DIDD. The interviews are voluntary, confidential, and completed face-to-face with the person receiving services at a convenient time and place.
Beginning as a systems change grant in 2002, the interview teams used an approved survey tool created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Following a decade of valuable independent system feedback for Tennessee, in 2013 the PTP supported the state’s participation in the National Core Indicators to gather a standard set of performance and outcome measures with 47 other states. Outcome measures were used to track Tennessee’s performance over time, to compare results across states, and to establish national benchmarks. Tennessee was finally comparing its 'apples’ with other states’!
That same year, in recognition for “outstanding accomplishments of researchers who have intellectual and developmental disabilities,” PTP was awarded The Arc US’ Participatory Action Research Award for demonstrating the power of data and how it can be used to make changes in a system.
PTP collaborates with many stakeholders such as; the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) like the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), and our state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Increasingly a national movement, PTP’s model underscores and emphasizes the importance and improved validity of peers—people with disabilities talking to other people with disabilities—to gather actionable feedback to measure and report the satisfaction with, and person-centered performance, of the system of supportive services.