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Podcast – Thane Dykstra: Trinity Services Prioritizes Wellbeing for Clients and Staff

Thursday, October 20, 2022
Podcast – Thane Dykstra: Trinity Services Prioritizes Wellbeing for Clients and Staff
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This week, at The One Thing Podcast by The Horton Group, our host, Jason Helfert, talks to our guest, Thane Dykstra, CEO of Trinity Services. This nonprofit serves more than 5,800 individuals with disabilities and mental illnesses. Their mission is to help them flourish by offering them a variety of services, including safe and comfortable housing, employment assistance, therapeutic services, recreational activities, social gatherings and more.

Trinity Services makes a point to prioritize wellbeing for both program participants and their staff. This is a concept that became more popular after the pandemic began impacting companies, but Trinity has been focusing on this area before then.

 “Wellbeing is on a lot of people’s minds,” Thane says. “If you look at retention, staffing is probably the biggest issue confronting our industry. But one of the retention factors you can actually control is wellbeing in the workplace.”

Trinity Services implements several components of positive psychology in their work. Thane gives a lot of credit to the PERMA model, which represents the main pillars of positive psychology: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

Listen to our podcast above for the full interview with Thane Dyktra to learn more about how Trinity Services implements the PERMA model to strengthen their programming and improve the lives of their clients and staff.


 

Transcription

Hello and welcome to the one thing podcast brought to you by The Horton Group. We’re at the Horton Group, we specialize in Insurance employee benefits and risk advisory, and I’m your host, Jason Helfert. Well being cannot exist just in your head. Well-being is a combination of feeling good and it’s actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment. So for today’s podcast, we’re going to be discussing positive psychology and how its principles are being implemented in a large, I DD agency headquarters just outside of Chicago. So, for that discussion in to lead us through a discussion or excited to have as a guest. A friend incline of the Horton Group, CEO and all-around good guy of ready, Services headquartered out of New Lenox Illinois things like sir. How are you saying? Um, I’m great, and I’m happy to be here today. Well, we’re very, very excited. You’re here with us and something being an expert on the subject of positive psychology. You more than likely recognize the quote as one being coined by Martin Sullivan a suit of Solomon. Excuse me, he was often coin as the Pioneer or a father of positive psychology and so thing when you hear a quote like that from Sullivan, does it make you think? Think of Trinity in a way or your program, participants or your team members, and I read it again in case, you know, I read it to fast. And so well being cannot exist, just in your own head. Well, being as a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment that make you think at all of eternity or the work you guys are doing. Yeah. Well, absolutely. Because we’ve focused much effort in the past several years, sort of applying selig, Some principles of positive psychology within our organization. And I think that it’s timely because of covid-19, I’d don’t want to talk much about today that I think that positive psychology and Perma for the acronym that that you just put out. There is sort of the antithesis and antidote in some ways to some of the internal effects of covid, okay? And so, you know, you know, Solomon’s wrote written several books, you know, his most recent, one on positive psychology. Probably as flourish. Where he lays out the sort of pillars of positive psychology and those include positive, emotion engagement relationships, meaning an accomplishment, and the way he sort of conceptualizes that is that you don’t have to do well on all those domains but it’s helpful, you know, the more, you know, the better that you’re doing in those different areas. I’m, you know, you’re more likely to have good, well, good, well, being or to be flourishing in. So, Or we jump into maybe how learning how the Trinity team, you know, was implemented. Some of these principles of positive psychology into person-centered planning, you know, navigate if you can us as listeners. And so we are so, the listener, staying is very well read on the subject and very well published on the subject. And so, what are we doing to know if we’re going to talk about the principles of positive psychology today, you walk us through. What do we need to know as you guide us through this conversation? Well I think the first and foremost thing is that I think many people are sort of Hungry as a wrestling with things like depression and anxiety, right? I was doing our new employee orientation last week, and, you know, a couple of the, the folks that were going through them. Ordering process said, you know, so tell us about well-being, and what trained he’s doing to promote well-being, Checkers were new employees, right? So I think it’s on lots of people’s minds and if you sort of look at retention, right, Staffing is probably the biggest issue, confronting our industry and many Industries. And one of the sort of actual areas that that you can do About is worrying about 
 
well-being in the workplace. Right? And so, you know, that’s why I think that we are so excited about positive psychology a little. Yeah, we started sort of forming into this area before covid, which is by a fortunate thing. Yeah, I’d say so too. And you know, it’s obviously one of them of the podcast yurich, you know, those issues and challenges you just mentioned are industry-wide our industry agnostic. Right? There are all about people and So we, you know, we have onboarding here to and the same questions. Come up well-being, what your wellness program? Like what’s your employee benefits program? Look like. And so all those things are are being asked of us as well. So if you if you do take a deeper dive into that, you brought up the subject about well-being in the workplace to how was Trinity implemented some of these principles or pillars or of positive psychology. Sure. So we’ll sort of going to order and I’m not going to try to touch but all the other the referred to as positive psychology interventions or ppis I’m Going to try to cover every positive. Psychology intervention, it’s ever been published, right? It’s or became the the time here. Well, sort of highlights. Some of the ones for staff or for program. Participants may be for both in some areas about things that we’re doing, or could be done. Great. So, we’ll start then with the p, which is positive. Emotion. And on that front, I think one of the most powerful interventions is the sort of gratitude journal or three good things where there’s research to support that if you take Time every day to start your day or to end your day writing down three, good things that have happened in your day or three things that you’re grateful for that has a very beneficial impact and well-being. Now, if you sort of take that to program, participants do many of our program participants can write. So you can do that in group format. So you can do that, you know, with a recorder if you wanted. But I do think that that’s a very powerful intervention and research would show that you don’t necessarily have to do that every day. For five days is probably sufficient to this. Develop that pattern. Sure. And I question for you and so I started this based on our conversation. We, you know, we chatted about a month ago or so. And I’ve always heard of gratitude journals, but I never really went down that road and then up after our conversation things, so I’ll give you credit for this. I started one with my oldest daughter. Okay. And I’ll tell you, you know it’s just it’s been a month and we’ll do like probably four days a week maybe five. We miss one on the accident sometimes and it’s been really cool. I think it’s It’s very interesting to think about things in a positive light all the time which is not all the time, but the highlights and most things in your life that are positive, right? And so it’s great, we’re framing your lunch if you will. But I’ll tell you the unintended, maybe in my unintended side effect or benefit was I feel like I’m closer to my daughter. No wizard that, you know, that maybe it’s intended or unintended bond between, you know, a service provider and a program participant that are doing this collectively together, right? And, you know, in our context, if this is something that you can do at the dinner table, right? That we tend to emphasize is most good providers. Probably do sort of family-style dining, right? And so this is sort of a good way to to Anchor some conversation in a very you know, sort of positive way. And that was sort of powerful thing that we did. Start a couple of years ago, this is more related to person-centered planning for our program. Participants often times, we struggle with coming up with meaningful goals for program, participants. And so one of the things I asked my residential Network directors to do was to take photos Catching people expressing, positive emotion. And so these weren’t sort of, you know, group shots and stuff. Right? These are people, you know, working on puzzles or you’re out in nature and stuff. And it’s like the most powerful slide shows for one thing. But that sort of for people that lack language they, If you’re sort of mindful about catching the positive emotion, I think it does sort of help you do a better job in forming goals and enriching people’s lives. Yeah, that makes Sense. And then, so what he had may be obvious question, obvious answer to you, then, what do you do with the photographs that you take in Catching people? You know, in a, in a positive, emotional response to something well, for us, mostly what we’re concerned about is, well, sometimes, we’ll share them with guardians to. But mostly, we’re looking at those kinds of activities to help build that into a person’s life, so that they have a more 
 
fulfilled, full and Abundant Life, that they’re flourishing. And makes, Sense. Okay then what’s what’s next on the Perma engagement? So that that is really sort of having activities that sort of draw your attention to them, require a skill level but not overly taxing, you know. So they just sort of demand this Focus. They demand a skill level and for people when they’re engaged in Surah flow activities and lose the sense of time. So if you think of something that you do 
 
you can tell me and a sec. But you know from It’s things like running 
 
that really sort of, you know, are helpful from a flow, standpoint puzzles, I guess at some level. You know, for me it’s something that I enjoy as a distraction, how many people, you know, I think video games, sort of, you know, fits this mold. And this is what I sort of pooh-poohed a little bit because it didn’t seem as relevant, maybe as some other categories, but there actually is research to suggest that actually structuring. And, you know, identifying and structuring activities that bring flow. Whoa, is very beneficial and contributes to well-being. And the leading researcher in this area is a fellow named me. High cheek sent me high, not easy to spell not easy, just to say, but it, you know, it’s really important. So again, it’s for staff members. And for program participants Co really coming up with activities that that lead to flow. Okay. And so for maybe some of the participants that are non-verbal and maybe more of a challenge to figure it out and so is that where you You just so how do you, how do you determine some of those activities for? Maybe participants that are non-verbal? Well, again by sort of you, watching by introducing new things for folks. They are some of the common ones are probably things like Co secret word, puzzles, puzzles, 
 
Those are in our agency amount of folks do Mandela’s, so sort of like these adults or coloring books with these shapes. I mean, but, you know, again that like children’s coloring book, right? But there are some people that don’t have the attention span to really engage in flow activities. So I don’t want to mislead anybody there are certainly some program participants are constantly on to the next thing. So, if you know, flow may not be quite as relevant to them. Okay. I make sense. And so, then the, our would be Ancient ships. Okay. And so for this one, you know, sort of makes sense, right? Like if I ask the you or the listeners to think of the peak moment that you’ve had, this this year where you’re just completely happy and and, you know, overjoyed and sort of think about the context in which that occurred 99% of the time that’s not done in solitude, you know, that’s done in the context of other people. And this area of relationships is the one, I think, has software most from from covid. Because in, you know, it stopped a lot of them. No contact with with people and so it’s super, super important to worry about this and research pans that out. You know, people can look up YouTube videos on, like the Harvard longitudinal study where they follow people from the like, the 1950s, 
 
to present actually. So there’s been like three leading researchers, because they keep retiring, right over that. That time span, they do interviews, they do Health metrics and they looked at an incoming class of Harvard students, as well as impoverished people in an area outside of Boston. And they find consistently like the Powerful impact. There is the quality of relationships that people have. Yeah, so you know, we don’t we’re not going to talk about it a lot because I don’t know, either one of us want to, but you did mention covid and so that that did suffer, right? The relationship piece of Perma suffered a lot. And, and so, how did you, how did you keep that front and center? And in, did you have? I mean, clearly at a pivot on the way. You may be fulfilled, their relationship portion of promo for the program, participants and your staff your employees, I’m sure they were feeling it justice. Program participants were. Yeah, this is one that we’re still sort of rolling up but I do think that’s what I’m part. But you’re right, you know, covid survey impacted some of the things that we want to do in this, in this area. You 
 
know, one good thing about covid, I guess is that, it’s sort of forced us to Pivot to Virtual Technologies. So we, you know, program, participants are using Zoom for various reasons. You know, family members friends, much more than I ever did before, I don’t think that’s a great substitute for live interactions, but, yeah, It’s better than nothing. Sure sure. It’s the things that were talked about here. Like work of Shelly, Gable and active constructive responding. And so that’s something that we’re working on sort of increasing staff awareness around which is when people share, good news with you. How do you respond to that, right? So somebody says, you know, I got promoted and you know, the person’s distracted and their telephone so it’s all that that’s great, right? That’s not real. Terrific and so active constructive responding. Is this Rolex just like what it sounds right? Wow, that’s terrific. Yeah. Yeah, tell me about that. Like, how did you, how did you do that? You know, what did the boss say, right? And what you’re doing there is that I think that you’re helping the person, Savor their experience, and what they find is, that active constructive responding is very powerful and it was been well replicated in terms of the impact on relationships. And then, example, I gave before about the cell phone, that would be called passive constructive responding. Actually, the associated with bad outcomes even though they’re there, it’s some constructive, it’s still not helpful. In terms of relationships, it actually has a detrimental effect on relationships. So we’re going to be building this out, going forward, probably the air and then there’s another thing that that viewers should it look up because it’s super cool and you might find this in terms of your daughter. 
 
Aaron did some research called 36 questions to make you fall in love and so you could find you can download. If you look up, 36 questions on any phone, you could download that that app. It really is sort of when it sounds. It’s 36 questions that you go through with a partner and what they found in the research, is after people went through this process of about 90 minutes that they would relate, they would rate that relationship with the person that they just did that with as being as intimate as most of the relationships in real life, right? So, you know what? Hoping to do, there was to, like, in our main building here. You know, we have, 150 180 people here on a daily basis. We are hoping to do some stuff in our cafeteria where you can sort of meet a stranger. Somebody didn’t know and sort of structures some activities, you know, around doing the 36 questions and then sort of the weaving that into program participants as well. The other thing that we’ve been playing around with and we’re in sort of our train the trainer mode right now is we’ve created small groups, using a puzzle psychology curriculum. And so we’ve been going through that process I think we’re about week 16 right now. It’s just been so powerful. We’ve been doing this via Zoom because we have fuel programs and down by st. Louis and Chicago and just the connections that have been formed, there are remarkable. And, and so you get to know people, you know, outside of work is one benefit to we’re sort of, you know, gives you a homework assignment, some things to work on related, positive psychology and then you have sort of this accountability Network to actually follow through on some of these things to keep a gratitude Journal, right? So it’s pretty cool. Yeah, and I got, I think everybody listening thing right now or watching whatever maybe is that when you talk about the relationship piece and one thing that I’m really big on with intentionality and tension around your efforts, your actions, your behaviors. And that could be certainly being an active participant in a conversation, being an active listener in a conversation because just think about what you just shared. An example of you have really good news to share in a person that you’re in a relationship with can’t even look up from their phone. To put it down and had, you know, be engaged in your joy of being engaged in that pot that conversation. And it’s just, I mean, it’s it’s so obvious, but we don’t do it. And I think, if we could all do a better job of doing that, we have our relationships to your point, would be much stronger and much better. Yeah, that’s at the really cool example. So thanks for sharing on that one. And so what’s, what’s next meaning? Okay, yep. So, you know, in terms of meaning, you know, from a staff perspective, sometimes you sort of take it for four. The people will find me. They know I’m talking more like direct support professionals, right? Who are working with people on a daily basis is think sort of by nature of what they’re doing. That meanings inherent, 
 
I’m not sure. That’s the case, there’s plenty of things. When you’re down staff and stuff and the workload is higher that pulls people away from that. So I think you’re really being intentional on recognizing people as are making a difference in people’s lives and sort of pointing that that out with folks and really sort of emphasizing Sizing that we have recognition systems and stuff that we use to facilitate that, but that’s, that’s super important. And, you know, I think that, that probably the most common way that, that, that people find meaning in their life is either to use what solid Member. First was signature strengths. And if you go, if you look up, authentic happiness, at the University of Pennsylvania website, you can take What’s called the vi a strength test. It’s 240 questions, you can take it for free and so identify 
 
He identified 24 strengths and I’ll give you a profile of what your strengths are. So the two most common ways to find meaning art, either be involved in activities, consistently that are using your signature strengths or to be making a difference in people’s lives. And so many of our staff members have taken. The V is a strength protocol that has been a program participants, because for many of them, it would be tough to grasp. So, we’ve been wrestling with you. Can we come up with something similar? That would be more accessible for our program. Participants Okay. And how important is perspective and I’ll frame it and different way you shared the fact that all the time especially last couple years dsps have been not overworked, but working really really hard and maybe seeing this as a job and not a place that has meaning. And so how important is perspective or third-party stories, you know, sharing good relationships for which a good meaning stories that other peers had with an individual that you’re providing services to. Is that part of this? Is that something that’s in its core framework? 
 
Or no? Yeah, I think so. 
 
Yeah, I mean, I don’t know how that that occurs by think that that’s very powerful for for folks, I think that’s one of the things that that’s happening again and sort of the our industry is that so many people have retired or sort of left that maybe I’d been in agencies for a period of time where you start to lose some of that perspective, right? Sure. And so it’s really important because you know, the network that I came from was our Behavioral Health Network and, you know, sometimes I’ll hear our staff members, you know, working with people who are struggling and they They don’t have that history that I do, right? Well, when this person came, you know, they’re breaking out windows on a weekly basis and they’re doing X Y & Z, right? But there aren’t current team members like in a particular day program that have that perspective of where how far this person is really come. Right? And how different people have made a difference in their lives. Sure, that’s a good point. That does make sense and then what about a accomplishment? 
 
So here, you know, for all of our employees, we New Growth plans, first of all, where we try to work with them to sort of set up things. Not just, you know, not like work goals right now. Like well do this for next week or by in the next quarter, but things related to their professional development and so oftentimes, you know, public speaking, you know, oftentimes makes this or taking a class on something, finding out more enriching their knowledge of positive psychology and then again in the context of ongoing supervision, you know, supporting people around that, you know, a woman one of my colleagues last night gave her first Look at the irf conference, and if you a great celebration because she’s in the small group that I’m in, and this was a goal, she set out, and she did a terrific job. So, you know, huge celebrations, right? And the accomplishment, that is just so important. Yeah. I think that’s wonderful. And I think, you know, we again, and I’m not going to make this a turning specific or agency perspective. It’s as we, I don’t think we do a good enough job, some type of doing that as well, you know, I think we do in Pockets, but again, I go back to intentionality. This is something that leaders were organization that people even you know, whatever your position is in an agency. It helped do a better job of rewarding accomplishments. Yep, I think we participant side, it’s, you know, a having meaningful goals which is important to talk about that but then celebrating program participant achievement. And so we have a very robust recognition program for program participants called Tada so I can show you the numbers on that. Just you know, it’s grown every year that that we’ve done it. This is, you know, these great celebration. Family members because some of these are done via Zoom or anyways during covid family members, they’ll often are participating and it’s just like such a cool experience. And the other thing that this Tada data allows us to do and we’ll do more of this in the future sort of recognizing our Champions. And so I’d like to have even sort of formal recognition, ceremony on things for our Champions, the other people who are helping our program. Participants accomplish 
 
what’s most important in their lives? Yep. No I loved it. And, and I mean, it seems like Trinity certainly adopting a lot of these principles and I think in large part due to your leadership. So I thank you on behalf of everybody else and I know you’re not saying I know you’re not on a book tour and you might not really be comfortable with self-promotion. So I’ll do it for you was anything you want to share about the book. You wrote with with your father art and the book is titled. A new plan using positive psychology to renew the promise of person-centered planning. Anything you want the listening audience to know about the book? I did more work than art. 
 
It’s been well received I think that person Center planning is a difficult thing to do it in a skillful way. You know, person-centered planning has existed for a long period of time, but but often poorly executed. And so yeah, we have different principle. We start to talk about the history of person-centered planning, and we talked about what we think are some of the Dimensions. And one of the most important things I think, is that the plan itself is something that’s easily. 
 
Easily used by a program participants and is Meaningful to them. And so the sort of structure that we’ve suggested has lots of pictures and things for program. Participants, I can hit a button to have their goals red and it’s like, you know, the the the guts of it are probably like in a trifold, plus some additional Pages 44 goals and you know we’ve had a lot of success and program participants do because of the pictures and they’re helping Zara put pictures into it, you know really find a value and you know what good is a personal plan? Like the ones in Illinois, there are 22 pages long. I’ll text, you know, no program participant wants to write to to to have that, you know, nobody’s going to show that off and as are proud of proud of it. So we’ve been working at that but, you know, we’re equally excited that we’ve been working on a web app for tablets and phones and whatnot. So we can do the planning, 
 
you know, in that modality and program, participants themselves can have it in that modality. A of our program, which is spends have smart phones and things. And so we’re building out some like dashboards and things so that agencies if they’re using, it can get feedback. And so, yeah, it’s been pretty well received at this point. You know, it’s a work in progress, but we’ve also had a lot of interest from the traumatic brain injury, sort of sector. Now, I’m not sure if they’re their efforts haven’t been made there just as sort of advanced and thinking about person centered planning. But it’s been fascinating to me that that we’ve received a lot of vegetables from that group, that is interesting and isn’t And So, for anybody listening who wants to further their knowledge, on the subject of positive psychology, please check out Thane, and arts book, and again, Thane did most of the work. And so, you know, if we get a negative view or negative response on our podcast, I know it’s, I know it’s art. So art please be kind. But the book is a new plan using positive psychology to renew the promise of person-centered planning. You can also find it on Amazon and you were all staying. Probably Amazon’s prizes. Yeah and a daddy. 
 
The thing, I want to thank you so much for your time. You’ve been a wonderful guest, wonderful educator. Wonderful friend to Hortense just want to say, thank you. Thank you so much, Jason, I appreciate it. You’re very welcome, and so, that’ll wrap it up for today. So until next time on behalf of the horde group, I’m Jason Halford saying, thank you for listening to the one thing. God cast.

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