With the roll-out of the NDIS, Participants and their families have started to shop around for services. Gone are the days where Participants will attend a service full-time. This has been replaced by Participants wishing to access a number of services for shorter periods over the week and weekend. Through information sessions, expos and discussions with Participants and families, we’ve discovered that word-of-mouth and recommendations play a huge role in how services are discovered and chosen. We expect that as the NDIS matures, Participants will look for guidance on their choice of service provider. So, what have we done to evolve?
Self-advocacy and reviewing
Over the past few months, Latrobe Lifeskills has been exploring self-advocacy and a Participant’s rights as individuals and service users. This kicked off through a collaboration with the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALID) and their Keys to Success program, which focused on rights, responsibilities and self-advocacy. The program ran across six weeks and aimed to build confidence and assist in creating and planning to achieve goals – something that can be extremely helpful when developing a plan through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Following this, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) ran their Be Heard program over four weeks to educate Participants about voting – what it means, how it’s done and why it’s done. The program culminated in a mock election which required Participants to vote for a fictional political party. VEC provided voting booths and a mock electoral role to replicate a genuine election as much as possible.
We thought that running some Clickability review sessions during the Computer Skills and Digital Media activities would be a good opportunity to build on the foundations set during these recent programs. Some Participants who provided reviews had also been involved in the VALID and VEC programs, while others had not.
The importance of reviewing
Before beginning the reviews, we ran through what Clickability is by showing Participants the website and looking at other reviews and organisations on the site. We also explained that, as service users, Participants have the right to choose how they use their NDIS or DHHS funding and to provide feedback and/or access reviews from other service users to help guide their own decision making.
Our review sessions
Participants reflected on what activities and accredited training they attend throughout the week; this helped to shape their feedback. Most Participants typed their own reviews, firstly into a Word document, which was then copy and pasted into the quick review form on the Clickability website.
We assisted others with typing – but all reviews were in Participants’ own words. Some Participants chose to use a pseudonym, others were fine with using their own name. We also discouraged Participants from using the names of their peers or support staff members and instead encouraged them to use the terms ‘friends’ and ‘teachers’ to protect people’s’ privacy – after all, the reviews would be going on the internet for all to see.
Once ready to post their feedback, most Participants needed to create their own email addresses. They were keen to see correspondence from Clickability confirming that their review had been received. During the sessions, Participants could see their reviews being published on the Clickability website – a great way to demonstrate the purpose of their feedback. The sessions may lead to reviews of a range of different things, movies being of particular interest for many!
What we learned
In running these sessions, we learned that Participants will most likely need assistance to complete reviews on the site. We used the ‘quick review’ tool which we found to be the most straightforward. We were careful to avoid putting words into Participants mouths when trying to trigger thoughts and reflection; obviously the need to retain the integrity of the platform was of high importance.
We’ve learned that a Participant’s peers have a major say in whether a Participant has a positive or negative experience. Getting the mix of personalities right in any group is an ongoing challenge, but one we do our best to meet by being flexible and understanding. There are, of course, things that remain out of our control but certainly things we can work on.
One Participant commented that they would like improved punctuality in the morning. While this can be hard because of a range of different factors (noting absentees, inclement weather, location changes, etc.), it’s something we’ve taken on board.
We hope that Participants recognise that their opinions are valuable, whether they required assistance articulating them or not. And, in fact, that theirs is the most important opinion when it comes to what we do.
Latrobe Lifeskills provides support to people with disability through a host of community engagement activities.
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