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User Group minutes May 2005

User Group Minutes - 25 May 2005

5 members of the User Group present

2 apologies received

Also present: Trevor Chapman and Jon Duckworth (ILF)

1. Matters Arising

1.1 Trevor announced that the Chair of the User Group had resigned. The group agreed with Trevor that the Chair had been integral to the creation and development of the User Group and that her presence would be missed.

1.2 There were updates on points from the last meeting’s minutes. Trevor explained that the Payment Assurance project was still going forward and that a pilot would begin soon. It was planned that the group would be consulted about this project.

1.3 Trevor explained that as part of the ILF’s risk management we were gradually reducing the amount of “historical” information we keep about individuals. This led to a wider discussion about record-keeping and how long ILF users were expected to keep records for. The group suggested that it would be useful to have a leaflet about record-keeping and possibly items on the website and in the newsletter.
Action Point: consider creation of leaflet/website item/newsletter item about record-keeping good practice.

2. Website developments

2.1 Work on the new ILF website is nearly completed. The group were shown a test version of the site and Trevor and Jon talked the group through some of the screens. Trevor explained how the ILF had created new images to replace old photographs that had been used on a lot of literature and also about the mural that had been commissioned which now formed part of the home page. Members of the group felt that the new site looked very good and seemed to contain a lot more useful information. There was support for the idea of being able to download forms from the website. The group discussed the idea of having forms to complete online and said we could consider using an “I Accept” key with terms and conditions to read. Other ideas that came from the group were to direct Extension Fund users to specific areas/links on the website and to have a facility for professionals to order forms using the website. A member of the group suggested that we should put access key numbers on the home page menu and also that we should test the website to see if it is compatible with a screen reader.

3. New compliments slip

3.1 We need to make users aware of our Complaints and Review procedure and also that they can receive letters in Braille or audio formats. Adding extra paragraphs explaining this in the letter itself increases the size of the letters and will increase printing costs. Jon explained that he has designed a compliments slip which contains the same information and asked the group’s opinion. The group felt that they were a good idea and would also be useful for handing out at events, etc. They were also a useful reminder for contact information but, equally, they were something disposable (unlike the Client User Guide).

4. The User Group

4.1 Trevor had some feedback from the Trustees’ Meeting. He said that the Chair of the User Group had attended and given a report of the group’s activities over the last year. However, she also announced that she was stepping down as Chair. The Trustees were pleased and surprised with how much the group had covered over the year, what they had added to the organisation and developments that had come out of the group’s discussions (including FAQs on the website and in the newsletter, policy initiatives, payment assurance work and internal diversity training). The Chair had expressed concerns that the remit of the group was limited in terms of service issues. There were wider concerns that the group was not progressing and that attendance at meetings was often quite low (for various reasons). This had prompted discussions about where ILF consultation with users should go next, and also whether the remit of the group should change, and how the group may develop.

The ILF had already explored the roadshows as a means for consultation and was committed to organising more of these events as a way of reaching users from different parts of the UK. Trevor explained that the ILF was also working on a project with Experience Corps – a vast database of people (over the age of 50) across the country who give their time and experience voluntarily to organisations. The ILF hope that this would be another way of consulting more widely and also with hard-to-reach communities.

The group discussed whether they would continue to operate on a more ad hoc basis and perhaps link up with work being carried out by the Strategic Policy Director around the Department of Health Green Paper on Independence, Wellbeing and Choice.

The group expressed concern that we should try and involve disability organisations more in our consultations and that work with Experience Corps should not detract from this. The group did feel that they could continue to be useful on an ad hoc basis when specific issues or areas for consultation came up. They recognised that attendance was sometimes low and felt that meeting every 2 months was too much of a commitment for some.

There was support in the group for widening the remit to allow discussion about and involvement with policy development.

It was also discussed whether it would be an idea to invite Social Work representatives, Disability Organisations and goverment representatives to the table for meetings. This would be a way of allowing the group to communicate directly with policy-makers. There was support for this within the group but also feeling that we should be careful not to dilute the main aim of the group as being a representation of ILF users.

Ultimately the group felt there was still value in having the group and an ongoing need but that we should explore different ways of working with the group. Some members of the group felt it should be less formal (as this could put off new members) and that there should be ways for people to get involved online, etc.

5. AOB / Next meeting

After discussion, it was agreed that the next meeting would be held on Wednesday 28 September 2005 at the usual time.
Action Point: Jon to send website link to all User Group members for group so they can look at the test site in their own time and give feedback.

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