Share This Post

25 Years of Identifying, Understanding, And Achieving Personal Outcomes

We’ve arrived at a significant milestone not only for CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, but especially for human services in general. Historically, quality in our field has been defined as compliance with programmatic standards, written policies and procedures, regulatory reviews, etc. This approach led towards an organization’s internally-designed operational initiatives directing the supports that people are provided, and ultimately, the lives that they live. Under this model, quality of life was being determined by the organization instead of the person receiving their services.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, CQL began its journey to change this model, leading efforts in establishing new standards for exploring and evaluating quality. As a result of these efforts, CQL standards were incorporated into federal court rulings, the Health Care Financing Administration’s (now CMS) Medicaid standards, along with numerous state licensing requirements. This evolution culminated in a shift in service delivery, where people receiving services would be determining their own quality of life, and where supports from organizations could equip them to achieve that quality of life.

In 1991, CQL began the development of what is now known as the Personal Outcome Measures®. This involved conducting diverse focus groups and in-depth conversations that included people receiving services, family members, CQL employees, and other thought-leaders in the human services field. CQL officially launched the Outcome Based Performance Measures in 1993 and then a modified version titled the Personal Outcome Measures® was released in 1997.

It’s About Person-Centered Discovery

The Personal Outcome Measures® (POM) is a discovery process to explore the presence, importance, and achievement of outcomes organized under 21 quality of life indicators covering topics involving relationships, respect, rights, choices, health, safety, social capital, community, goals, dreams, employment, and more. During separate interviews with people receiving supports and those who know them best, interviewers ask questions and learn about outcomes and supports in their life.

It’s About Improving Lives

When people share what really matters to them, what they want to accomplish, and how they want to get there, they become empowered to know that they are the driving force for change. As people’s hopes, dreams, and desires are pursued and realized, quality of life improves and people are exposed to even more possibilities. When these outcomes are integrated into a formalized process like the POM, there is the capacity for consistent measurement to track progress and guarantee accountability.

It’s About Organizational Transformation

Through the POM, organizations can ensure that services are focused on the directives of those who receive services, which inherently aligns the agency with person-centered values and philosophies. This helps create and nurture a culture where people are understood, respected, and empowered. At an individual level, organizations can assess what people want to accomplish and then focus services to make it a reality. At an aggregate level, organizations can identify broad areas where improvement is needed and then strengthen initiatives and allocate resources to turn things around

It’s Time To Celebrate 25 Years

With official release of this powerful tool in 1993, we are now celebrating 25 years of the Personal Outcome Measures® in 2018. To commemorate this anniversary, over the next 25 days we will be sharing testimonials, tools, videos, information, and more, all about the POM.

To kick off these 25 days, CQL has published a report ‘Personal Outcome Measures®: 25 Years of Person-Centered Discovery and Achieving Outcomes,’ which details insightful and informative data about outcomes and supports, along with a few practical profile stories that share the real-life effects of the tool.

To keep track of updates and information about the POM over the next 25 days, you can ‘Like’ our Facebook Page and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter. If you have your own stories, information, or resources to share about the Personal Outcome Measures® please post them to your social media channels and use the hashtag #25YearsOfPOMs, so we see all of the amazing work you are doing! Also, on the final day of our 25-day celebration, we will be sharing an exciting announcement!


Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.