Service Improvement Project

Service Improvement Project

A systematic and structured approach to service improvement

The Service Improvement Project (SIP) offers a systematic, collaborative and structured approach to service improvement. Stage One aimed to articulate outcomes at the individual, service and program levels across the child, youth and family sector. Stage Two of the project intends to build on the foundations created by Stage One, to develop program guidelines and procedures, and evaluation frameworks, enabling data collection and evaluations that will be robust, effective and create a culture of ongoing service improvement.

Stage 1

Organisations were funded under the ACT Government’s Children Youth and Family Support Program (CYFSP), as well as the CYFSP Workforce Development and Training Sub-Committee. The services varied in terms of the target cohort, program activities and intended outcomes, spanning the breadth of service types included in the CYFSP

We worked with

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services

across

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organisations

The Two key outputs delivered in Stage 1 included:

Program logic: Articulating the aims, activities and program theories for each service
• Outcome measurement process: Identifying outcomes and outcome indicators that demonstrate the identified changes that occur as a result of each service’s work with children, young people and/or families.

SIP highlighted the significant and diverse range of outcomes being achieved by programs and services across the ACT child, youth and family sector. The programs funded across the CYFSP contribute to an interrelated web of outcomes for children, young people and families, across domains such as:

Life Skills

confidence

future focus

safety

social capital

trust

education and employment

accessing support

Each of the teams spoke about their own personal values, as well as the values that drive them as a team and organisations. It was clear that people don’t work in these roles unless they genuinely want to see change in people’s lives, and believe that the work they do genuinely makes a difference. The most common values were person focused – around building trust, relational work that includes voluntary engagement and flexibility to meet clients’ needs, and being collaborative and strength based. 

The Service Improvement Project (SIP) offers a systematic, collaborative and structured approach to service improvement. Stage One aimed to articulate outcomes at the individual, service and program levels across the child, youth and family sector. Stage Two of the project intends to build on the foundations created by Stage One, to develop program guidelines and procedures, and evaluation frameworks, enabling data collection and evaluations that will be robust, effective and create a culture of ongoing service improvement.

  1. Developing trusted relationships with clients – Trust is a key factor in much of the support work done with clients, however, clients should have the opportunity to establish trust beyond one support worker. Building trust with more than one individual staff member enables a service to assist in a crisis or if their primary worker is away. This can also help with transition planning, particularly when clients may start to experience stagnations and could move to a different support type. Establishing trust with other workers within one team or organisation can help clients build trust with the community sector, and other services and
    supports in the community.
  2. Reflective practice – Teams need sufficient, regular time to reflect on the overall work their program is doing, which outcomes are being achieved, and the value that each of their activities have. The opportunity to do this type of reflective practice was rated as one of the most valuable parts of the SIP by workshop participants. This type of reflective practice gives ongoing opportunity for programs to make small adjustments or find better ways to deliver programs, which can lead to better client outcomes.
  3. Connecting clients with other supports – For workers undertaking case management roles or long term/intensive support in particular, it is important to ensure clients are supported to connect with other services. This includes ensuring they develop the knowledge they need to navigate the service system, and the confidence and capacity to access other supports on their own.
  4. Transition / Exit planning – Each program should have a procedure in place for assisting clients to transition to a lower level of support and/or exit the program. This should include discussions about transition planning with clients, and the process timing could be overseen through discussions with a practice leader or supervisor, or determined through program guidelines.
  5. Written procedures and program guidelines – Each team should have written procedures and program guidelines. These have a role as a framework to check in, to provide continuity and consistency of care for clients, and can provide clear guidelines for assessing client readiness to leave a program or transition to other support.
  6. Continuous Improvement – Teams should develop continuous improvement and evaluation processes which are focused on outcomes. The program logics and outcome measurement processes developed through Stage One of the SIP are able to be used by teams to collect data and reflect on activity processes and outcomes within the team.
  1. Supervision – Organisations and Team Leaders need to ensure all team members, including management, have time allocated for adequate supervision. Supervision needs to be adequately factored into program design, and program funding, and designed to meet the needs of each team. Anyone providing supervision should be trained, and there should be a clear understanding across the organisation of the different types of supervision, and what people are receiving. The use of external supervision, and/or the use of a lead worker to provide supervision could be considered by many programs.
  2. Opportunity to implement new skills and ideas – Staff who participate in training and professional development activities need the opportunity to implement what they have learned – this includes permission and allocation of resources. We recommend organisations have a process for hearing feedback from team members, including barriers they may be facing to implement any changes.
  3. Clear communication of purpose – Management teams should be clear on their values, purpose, activities and outcomes. This flows through to program staff and helps them identify their purpose and articulate the value of their service. In turn, this helps clients understand the support they can expect to receive, be clear about their goals, and can lead to improved outcomes, and increased satisfaction with the service.
  4. Scope creep – Managers need to be conscious of the time that is required for teams to plan and implement new programs or activities, and where this can take away resources from existing activities. Clear two-way communication between teams and management about new opportunities, and whether teams can incorporate them into existing work or need additional resources or to reduce existing workload.
  5. Volunteer support – Programs which utilise volunteers should regularly review screening, intake, and support mechanisms, including supervision, reporting and debriefing. At a minimum, organisations should ensure they are meeting all the standards outlined in the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement.
  1. Supporting people in crisis – No specific service currently deals with crisis situations for new or potential case management clients, meaning each team is required to deal with crisis work, or people in crisis are not able to be supported when all programs have full caseloads. Funding and service planning needs to reflect the impact that crisis situations can have on existing caseload balance for staff members, and the need for staff to have time allocated to assisting in a crisis before it occurs.
  2. Consistency of language – Currently the language used in the sector and between services is fairly consistent, but this does not flow through to government. Ensure contract managers are aware of and using language consistent with the sector.
  3. Supervision for community sector staff teams – There is a shortage of accessible professional supervisors in the sector, with qualifications and experience in providing supervision. The sector needs supervisors who are able to provide individual and group supervision, either internal to organisations or external. If organisations do not have in-house supervisors,
    funding needs to reflect the true cost of access to external private providers of supervision services.
  4. Centralised intake – many services spoke of frustration with referrals coming through from a centralised intake service. Intake and assessment staff were not always aware of programs or support offered by services, therefore referring clients who could not appropriately be supported by the service. Other programs rarely received referrals through this process. Almost all programs had developed their own processes for ensuring clients were referred out of their programs that either bypassed or sat alongside the centralised intake process. We note that many of the concerns raised are being addressed, and recommend a process of regular reviews of referral processes, open, two way communication to provide feedback between centralised intake and services, and that intake and assessment staff within Onelink receive thorough induction and ongoing training regarding the programs offered by CYFSP services

Read the Stage One Final Report

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