In 2009-2010, Flexi Queensland undertook a series of formal and informal discussions with Service Users, their Families and Carers, Staff and members of the Board. Through an organisational planning day, monthly parents and friends get-togethers, and informal discussions, we discussed and developed the following:
- Services that make up Flexi Queensland’s core business;
- Prioritised activities within our core business;
- Models of service;
- Gaps in service delivery;
- Future developments;
- and big picture thinking.
We called our model of service delivery The Flexi Philosophy an Evolving Model of Service.
The model sits squarely in Strengths Based Theory and Practice, connected with the Mental Health Recovery Model for our Mental Health services.
The Model is also based on the teachings of Michael Kendrick and focuses on meeting the evolving needs of service users.
Flexi Queensland is service user driven and find ways to make things happen. We focus outwards into the community not inwards to ourselves, we look to the community for accessing services not to us to provide duplicate services and we will focus on finding ways to provide supports which do not exist to meet the ongoing needs of our service users.
We mean integration not interaction with the community and we mean participation not placement within the community.
Governance: Our Board understands our day to day operations through representation, participation and engagement with the community, our families and service users and our teams. The Board creates the environment for careful innovation and development of service opportunities and the Board provides a framework for long term planning. The Board concentrates on what is possible and dreams of what might be possible.
Skills: We believe all our service users have talents and abilities. It is our responsibility to support service users to not only maintain skills, but to develop new ones. We believe that this is possible regardless of the age of the service user or the disability, or the length of time it takes for the skill to become habit.
Connecting Outwardly: The rapid advancement of mechanical aides and computer innovations provides an ever expanding platter of experiences for our organisation and our service users. So we can have Skype-pals in China and America as well as Melbourne or Perth. We integrate our social networking so that families and service users as well as staff and the public can find out what we are doing, make comments paste ideas, videos and comments to Twitter, Facebook and the Blog- based website.
Living: Our accommodation is not a residential; it is a home which belongs to the people who live there. They are called housemates not residents. They each have a right to individual freedoms within and outside the house and this includes having visitors, family, sleepovers, dinner guests, parties, BBQs and a variety of individual and shared activities of their choice and according to their abilities.
We see the Flexi 1 and 2 houses as simply two options in a suite of options in the community. We plan to offer a range of accommodation options over time, from 24 hr support, through to no or minimum support. As we are able to support the development in independent living skills in service users, and as alternative living options become available, we will continue to work with our service users and their family to choose to transition as appropriate.
Learning: We have introduced new opportunities for service users, families and staff to experience different situations, people, languages, food, music and clothing by going away for holidays overseas. Parents were overwhelmed with the way in which their son/daughter took the initiative, coped with being lost, made decisions and developed skills during these holidays.
Stretching: We look to integrating Sports, the Arts, Music, Cooking and services to our community and facilitating the involvement of our rich Indigenous community into more of our cultural experiences as evidenced by offering an Art Course with a local indigenous artist Aicey Zaro. We look to community service through volunteering, employment and education opportunities.
Recruiting: For our staff, the Flexi Philosophy means access to regular, focussed and challenging training. The ability to specialise in areas of service delivery and access to regular debriefing, staff meetings and ongoing support and evaluations through annual appraisals conducted between February and March each year.
In addition we work hard to provide the conditions and the funding to support Accredited training to all staff to Diploma level. We expect a minimum standard of qualification of a Certificate Level IV in Disabilities throughout the organisation, with a number of staff holding several Certificate IV levels and working towards a Diploma.
Partnering: We are enthusiastic to partner with organisations and individuals who share our belief in the opportunities that can exist for service users, service delivery, support for parents and families as well as for our staff. We look outward to what may be possible.
We have local partnerships with the Burdekin Council, the Burdekin Library and Burdekin School. We partner with other services in the region: Cootharinga, Bowen Respite Service, SOLAS, Spinal Injuries, New Horizons Employment, Endeavour Foundation and Harvey World Travel Ayr. We have partnerships with universities locally and internationally with James Cook University and the University of Hong Kong and the College of Applied Psychology in NSW.
Flexi Queensland’s Core Services:
- Community Access
- Social Integration
- Living skills
- Holidays (also known as Respite)
- Specialist Teams
Specialist Teams – developed to ensure that we have a structural response to the life stage needs of service users. Teams have a Team Leader who provides specialist support and information to the Lifestyle Facilitators. They provide a linking between families, service users and the organisation.
- Junior Team (Under 18’s) – works closely with the schools and families to ensure congruency of skills focus and behavioural plans. Emphasis on friendships and fun within this context;
- Young Adults’ Team – focuses on independence, skills development, friendships and social/ community networking;
- Older Adults’ Team – for service users nearing retirement as for Young Adults with due consideration for psycho-social changes that accompany older lives;
- Mental Health Team – partners with SOLAS and delivers services in conjunction to the recovery based model of service delivery;
- Intake and Assessment Team – provides excellence in person centred planning;
- Centre Team integrating individual goals with choice in activity plans and rostering.
Research Projects: Through the last 18months we have become aware of the absence of research for various aspects of our work. Consequently, we are interested in creating opportunities to attract people who are interested in research opportunities in fields of common interest. Some of these fields include:
- Best practice for service delivery to the services users who are over 50 years of age;
- The use of social media amongst people with disabilities;
- Bridging the divide for rural and remote communities using social media;
- Service delivery outcomes based planning.
The Flexi Philosophy is itself an evolving model of service delivery. We hope and expect that on the regular reviews we undertake, that it will adapt to and adopt best practice ideas and innovations over time.
We believe our model meets and exceeds all the criteria contained in the service delivery principles articulated in the Disability Services Act 2006
The following is a synopsis of the Flexi philosophy:
1. We are Service User driven. This means:
- It is Flexi’s task to find ways to meet service user demands;
- Flexi does not offer a suite of services which are pre-determined we create services around the person according to their wishes, we offer options;
- Flexi looks outward to the community;
- Flexi participates in the community;
- Flexi seeks to role model to the community best practice in respectful communications with people with disabilities;
- Flexi listens and hears what service users and their families want and need;
- Flexi finds ways around obstacles;
- Service users and their families can, as far as possible, choose workers they feel comfortable with, including family members;
- Individual Support Plans can be altered, adjusted, added to or revised at any time;
2. We operate in ways that are ethical and transparent. This means:
- We seek input by the community in our decision making;
- We are open to challenge;
- We are not afraid of difficult conversations, complaints or competing interests within our services or service user families;
- We seek to have clarity in our words and written works.
3. In delivering services we focus on communicating clearly. We:
- Recognise that it takes time for families and individuals to get to know us;
- We will provide as much information in different formats to ensure information is widely spread;
- We will provide written information which keeps people as up to date as possible and reminds them of our service obligations including the service planning, delivery and complaints procedures;
- We will, as far as possible, plan ahead, foreshadow to families and in our planning, matters that need, or may need, to be discussed;
- We will use augmented communication devices and a variety of other communication tools or reminders to assist services users to create plans that have meaning for everyone.
4. Organisational Governance, Policies and Procedures can be accessed by service users and their families at any time.
5. Dignity of Risk and Risk Minimisation and Management are themes within the planning process.
6. We seek feedback from the service users and family and Flexi on a regular basis.
Flexi Queensland works to support the Human Rights Principles which state that all people with disabilities have a right to the same human rights as others. Namely:
(1) People with a disability have the same human rights as other members of society and should be empowered to exercise their rights.
(2) People with a disability have the right to:
- have respect for their human worth and dignity as individuals; and
- realise their individual capacities for physical, social, emotional, cultural, religious and intellectual development; and
- live lives free from abuse, neglect or exploitation; and
- participate actively in decisions affecting their lives, including the development of disability policies, programs and services.
(3) When using disability services people with a disability have the right to:
- services support them to achieve a quality of life in a way that supports their family unit and their full participation in society; and
- receive services in a way that results in the minimum restriction of their rights and opportunities; and
- receive services in a way that respects the confidentiality of their information; and
- receive services in a safe, accessible built environment appropriate to their needs; and
- pursue grievances about services without fear of the services being discontinued or recrimination from service providers; and
- receives support to enable them to pursue grievances about services; and
- support, and access to information, to enable them to participate in decisions affecting their lives.
(4) People with a disability have the right to receive services, and information necessary to support rights, in ways that are appropriate having regard to their disabilities and cultural backgrounds.
In 2009 all parents, service users, staff and Board also participated in and contributed to the new and updated Governance, Policies and Procedures Manual.
Written by: Brenda-Anne Parfitt, former CEO of Flexi Queensland – February 2011