I was scheduling someone’s appointment the other day and looked across the scheduling book. I started thinking about accountability and the people that I love, our clients. When I look at my appointment book Monday and that coming Thursday looks like a packed day, I won’t schedule anybody else for that day. Due to clients not showing up for their appointments, we may have several spots throughout the day where we could have scheduled someone to get food. By not calling and canceling an appointment, one person causes another person to be scheduled to get food from two weeks to even a month away. Yes, we have a small box distribution every Wednesday where someone can come to get food while they wait for their appointment but that is extra support, not a lifeline.
My point is, if we are feeding, equipping, empowering and restoring dreams, then we need to call our clients into accountability. The real world demands accountability. A job won’t keep you on if you have too many no call, no shows. At a doctor’s office, if you missed an appointment without calling in advance and canceling, you might not get rescheduled with that doctor for several months, if you get rescheduled at all.
Recently, Feeding Inc. has put some new guidelines into place that change the way we schedule our clients. After the client has been informed of the policy change, if then they miss their appointment without calling or leaving a message, the next scheduled appointment will be a month away from when we could possibly schedule it next. Now these are guidelines, not rules, and we will make exceptions as needed. Our heart is one of grace, not to cripple by enabling but to heal by empowering and equipping.
So, bringing this thought into real time with a client can be difficult and needs kid gloves. For instance, a elderly client that I love dearly came to the pantry and insisted that she needed an appointment the very next Thursday, even though she was scheduled for the following Thursday after that. I listened to her reasons why and showed her my full schedule. Had I just given her a flat out no without regard to the relationship we have built, I would have destroyed said relationship and she would have been quite offended.
Instead, I told her that she could come in the afternoon to see if there were any cancellations and if every person on that list came, then she would have to wait until her appointment time next week. This allowed her to see that even though I cared about her needs, there were other needs beside hers and also satisfied her at the same time.
Accountability comes out of relationship and caring, not hard and fast rules. Since the guidelines have been set into place, most of our clientele are very understanding and absolutely no problems have arisen from them. Accountability isn’t easy but it is necessary and totally worth it. We have even had a few spots open up on the schedule due to cancellations!