A UK based program is transforming the way people with disability voice their opinions on how they live their lives and the services they receive from providers.
In 2018, Achieve Australia partnered with the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) at the University of Sydney to undertake a pilot project of the UK based feedback program Quality Checkers.
Quality Checkers differs from traditional methods of gathering information and feedback on services for people with disability. It features a peer-to-peer review model, where people with disability carry out the interviews and report on results with the help of a support worker, staff member or family member.
The program is based on the view that people with disability have a unique perspective on the support and built environment that they observe and will pick up on subtle factors that may not be obvious to a person who does not have a lived experience of disability.
David Taylor, Research and Project Officer at CDS, worked on the pilot project with Achieve Australia. David coordinated the visitation schedules, delivered training to the Quality Checkers and was involved in a number of the interviews and follow-ups.
“Programs such as Quality Checkers demonstrate that organisations value the lived experience of people with disability and acknowledge that people with disability are ‘experts by experience’ about what quality service provision and support looks like for people with disability,” explains David.
“Peer-led programs empower people with disability, whether they are the Quality Checkers themselves or the people receiving support, by creating a valuable role where disability is seen as a strength,” he says.
David says the team at CDS discovered that there was strong support from the wider community for Quality Checkers during the pilot program. “This was seen in the feedback from people with disability that we interacted with, family members supporting people with disability, and audiences at disability research conferences,” says David. “This demonstrates that there is an apparent gap in the disability sector and wider community for a peer-led program such as Quality Checkers.”
As part of the pilot, 25 participants from Achieve Australia took part across a number of sites. All Quality Checkers were placed into pairs – one Quality Checker was a person with a disability and the other was a support person.
Jo-Anne Hewitt, CEO of Achieve Australia says that getting involved in innovative programs and research such as this is an important step forward in providing more opportunities for the people we support to build and maintain greater independence and choice in life.
“Programs like Quality Checkers give people with disability the chance to voice their opinions and become part of the solution, which helps build both confidence and independence,” says Jo-Anne. “It’s also empowering for people to have a say about how their services are delivered, how their needs are being met, or what needs to change. We want to be there to listen and then take action.”
Currently, trained staff and participants from the Quality Checkers program have commenced reviews of Achieve’s services across the organisation. The outcomes are providing valuable information and insights to assist in further improving our services for the future.
“Our hope would be that Quality Checkers becomes a model for the sector and that the lived experience of people with disability continues to be elevated at every level of service provision for people receiving support from disability services,” says David.
In 2020, CDS will continue to undertake further research to help improve the lives of people with disability, including a study into the barriers and enablers for people with disability forming and maintaining significant relationships.
For more information, visit cds.org.au