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User Newsletter Issue 5 October 2004

This newsletter has been issued to all ILF users. It is designed to keep you up to date with developments at the Funds, and give you information or advice that may be of interest. If you have any ideas for things you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, or have general comments about this edition, please get in touch with Jon Duckworth by writing, phoning or by email. For all other queries you should speak to your caseworker. All contact details are given on the back page.

Back On The Road: Exeter

The ILF staged its first roadshow in May of this year in Glasgow giving local ILF users an opportunity to speak to caseworkers directly, find out more about the Fund and meet other ILF users – as well as the other organisations that joined us on the day.

The event was so successful that we are holding another roadshow in Exeter on Thursday 28th October 2004. It will take place at the Southgate Hotel,Southernhay East, Exeter. All our users in the Devon and Cornwall area are welcome to drop in and meet us. Doors open at 10.00am and people can come and go any time before 5.00pm. Refreshments will be provided throughout the day. For more information about the event call (0845) 601 8815 and ask to speak to Jon Duckworth.

We Need YOU!

The ILF is currently redeveloping its website and would like volunteers to help test the prototype. Access to the Internet is the only thing you will need to participate. Volunteers will be able to visit the test site and carry out searches and queries on the site. They will then be invited to give feedback on how the site looked and how easy it was to use. We don't just want computer whizzes to apply – as this site has to be accessible to everyone.

If you would like to be considered for involvement in this project or want to find out more please send a letter to Jon Duckworth at the ILF or e-mail jon.duckworth@ilf.org.uk


New Complaint and Review Procedure
Avwiene Etefia

The ILF has centralised its handling of complaints and requests to review decisions and appointed me as the Complaint and Review Manager. I can be contacted by post, email, and by telephone (0115 945 0736). An answering machine is on, so you can leave a message if I am unavailable when you call.

If you are not satisfied with my response, an appeal can be made to the Chief Executive, Elaine Morton, in writing.

We are always pleased to know when we have done a good job. Therefore, do tell us if you are happy with a particular service you receive. We use all feedback to gauge the success of our service.

Here’s Looking At You

Working on as many cases as we do it can be easy for ILF staff to forget the difference our funding can make to the lives of ILF users. That is why it is nice when we receive letters of thanks and even photographs from you.

So please keep your letters, cards and photos coming in – because we love to hear (and see) from you.

Change To The Extension Fund Trust Deed
Trevor Chapman

The Charity Commission is proposing to make a scheme to amend the trust deed of the Independent Living (Extension) Fund. This will enable a user of the Fund to be a Trustee.

A copy of the draft scheme can be obtained from the Charity Commission, seen on their website or at the ILF offices. Comments or representations must be made to the Charity Commission by 28 October.
The scheme does not affect the eligibility or payments of anyone who receives help from the Extension Fund.

Employer Records Questionnaire
David Smith

As part of a Payment Assurance Project, I have issued some Employer Records Questionnaires to ILF Assessors.

ILF Assessors are requesting that all clients they visit as part of the Funds review programme answer a set of 14 questions. This is only for a temporary period, between 4 October and 7 November.

Each question focuses on the area of employer responsibilities and record keeping. Most of this information would normally be gathered as part of a revisit anyway, so it should not take up too much of your time. If you only employ agency care there are only three questions to answer. If your PAs are self-employed the information required is also limited.

The questionnaire is not compulsory however the more responses we get the better so I would really appreciate your cooperation with this.

The questionnaires will not be kept with any other information we hold for our clients and there are no client details, such as reference numbers on the form. We will not therefore know which client has answered the questions.

The results of the questionnaires will provide some indication of how ILF clients keep records about the people they employ using ILF awards. The results will also indicate what level of support and assistance ILF clients need in order to fulfil their responsibilities as employers.

If you are not due to be visited before 5 November but would like to give me information about how you deal with your ILF payments and employer responsibilities, please get in touch with me. I am keen to hear from you and any information given is in complete confidence. You can also contact me if you would like to know more about anything contained in this article.

Contact: David Smith, Payment Assurance Manager

Annual Report 2003/2004 – An Overview

At the beginning of 2003 the ILF set itself a challenging programme of improvement, at the heart of which was our aim to deliver an improved service to you – our users. Part of this has been about setting ourselves targets and doing our best to meet these. For instance:

We wanted the reduce the average time taken to make an offer of financial assistance on new applications from 132 days to 105 days by March 2004. We actually reduced it to an average 96 days.

We wanted to reduce the average time taken to complete a review visit for Extension Fund users from 132 days to 84 days by March 2004. We achieved a reduction to 103 days by March 2004.

We wanted to reduce the average time taken to complete a review visit for 1993 Fund Users from 219 days to 105 days by March 2004. We achieved a reduction to 133 days.

We wanted at least 90% of complaints to be answered within 28 days. Actually 91% of complaints were answered within 28 days.

We aimed for the accuracy of our payments to users to be at least 90%. We have achieved an accuracy of 88%.

We aimed for the quality of the work to be met in at least 90% of cases. We achieved 88%.

While not all the targets had been met by March 2004 we have made significant in-roads and there have been various reasons for this. We are continually reviewing our working practices to find more effective procedures; we have speeded up the production of letters and improved the turn-around time of our ILF Assessors. We have also reviewed and revised the procedures for dealing with complaints and decision reviews.

In addition to this there has been the reorganisation of the Funds that merged the Extension Fund and 1993 Fund teams, constant development of our computer system and an increased emphasis on the training and development of our staff.

We continue also to strengthen our relationships with Local Authorities and with people, organisations and groups that have an interest in our work.

2004 and 2005 will see us build on this progress and continue to provide better service by ensuring our processes are efficient and modernising the way we work where necessary. We will consult more widely with our users and develop our contacts with organisations representing ethnic groups to ensure there is equal access and treatment in all areas of our service. We will also treat the accuracy and security of our payments as a priority.
The full Annual Report for 2003/2004 is available to view on our website. A hard copy can be obtained by writing to Simon French, Information Manager at the ILF.

Client User Group News
From Joan Yarnell

Hi everyone! My name is Joan Yarnell and I have been the Chair of the ILF User Group since it was formed in September 2001. There are currently 11 of us who regularly attend the meetings held at the ILF office in Nottingham. 7 are ILF users and 4 attend on behalf of family members. We meet every 2 months.

The ILF set up the User Group because they wanted to know what we thought of the way they communicated with us and ask us for ideas about how the ILF could improve its service.

As individual users we give feedback on our own experiences of the ILF and how that fits in with the other things we have to deal with as disabled people and employers. We also comment on changes and developments and consider how these may impact on all ILF users.

I recently went to an ILF Trustees’ meeting in London to talk about the work we’ve done so far. Here are some of the developments at the Fund that we have played an integral part in:

Communication:

  • Introduction of the User Guide leaflets and changes to the Application Form – making it easier to find information
  • Production of this regular Newsletter
  • Ensuring each client has a named caseworker
  • Staff ring clients back if asked to avoid keeping you hanging on the phone
  • ILF has an 0845 telephone number – a lo-call rate which costs the same wherever you live in the UK
  • Development of disability equality training for ILF employees

Technology:

  • Email for every staff member – making it easier to communicate with ILF
  • Summary of User Group meetings on the ILF website
  • Frequently Asked Questions section on the website

The User Group:

  • Development of the User Group enabling ILF to consult with as many users as possible
  • Appointment of the Client Liaison Manager
  • Meetings with the Chief Executive and the Trustees yearly (or more often if necessary)

The User Group discusses a wide range of issues. Recent topics have been:

  • Responsibilities of employing a personal assistant
  • The hidden costs of employing a personal assistant
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • Data Protection Act
  • Definition of Personal Care

It is very satisfying to know that things we discuss have brought about real positive changes at the ILF. For more details of our discussions or information about upcoming consultation events you can visit the ILF website http://www.ilf.org.uk or write to me: Joan Yarnell c/o Jon Duckworth, ILF, PO Box 7525, Nottingham NG2 4ZT.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Questions And Answers

Question: “What should I do if the cost of my care increases, or my care needs change?”
Answer: Your ILF award is originally calculated by looking at the assistance that is needed and the actual real cost of providing that. Therefore you should notify us about any change to the cost or service (whether it is an increase or a decrease) as this may affect what we pay you. You do not need to wait for the ILF to do a review revisit to tell us about changes. You can contact us at any time to request an increase.

Question: “Why doesn’t my ILF award increase annually in line with inflation?”
Answer: The amount we pay you is based on the actual cost of your care. It would not be appropriate to automatically increase everyone’s payments in line with inflation every April because of the vastly different care packages we help fund. (For example, not all care agencies increase their charges in April, and their increase may not be in line with inflation anyway.) We can ensure our payments to you are current and accurate if you get in touch to advise us as soon as you are made aware of a change in cost.

Contributors this issue:

  • Joan Yarnell (Client User Group Chair)
  • Trevor Chapman(Information and Service Director)
  • Avwiene Etefia (Complaint and Review Manager)
  • David Smith (Payment Assurance Manager)
  • Edited by Jon Duckworth

CONTACT THE FUNDS

To speak to someone about your case:
ILF telephone number: 0845 601 8815

Ring the switchboard on 0845 601 8815. Tell the operator your name. You will be put through to the person who deals with your case, or, if they are not available, one of their colleagues.

To write to the Funds:
You can write to the Funds at this address:

Independent Living Funds
PO Box 7525
Nottingham
NG2 4ZT

To email the Funds about your case send it to client.service@ilf.org.uk

The email will be directed to your own caseworker.

To fax us:
1993 Fund: 0115 945 0945
Extension Fund: 0115 945 0946

To visit our website: www.ilf.org.uk

Textphone: 0845 601 8816 (for textphone users only)

The office is open Monday to Friday. Phone lines are in operation Monday – Thursday 9.00am to 4.30pm, Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm. Phones are closed from 2.00 to 3.30pm on Thursdays for staff training.

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