In this section

September 2005

Minutes from the Client User Group meeting
28 September 2005
Present

5 x User Group members

Apologies

3 x User Group members

Present from the ILF

Jon Duckworth, User Service Manager

James Sanderson, Business Development Director

Jane Jephson, Publications Manager

1. Matters Arising

1.1. Website Development

The new ILF website had gone live as planned on 1 August. The User Service Manager thanked the group for their suggestions and feedback. The initial response to the site has been very positive. The ILF will continue to develop the site. It is hoped that interactivity will be increased so that people can apply online, for example. Discussion forums are another possibility. The ILF are also hoping to encourage contributions from users – particularly if they have personal stories or information to share with other ILF users.

1.2. New stationery

The User Service Manager reminded the group about the plans for a new “Complements” slip that had been designed to inform people about complaints and review procedures. The slip would go out with letters to users and would also advise people that they could receive letters in Braille or audio formats. The User Service Manager advised the group that this information was now being provided on the back of the ILF headed paper instead. Samples of the new stationery were shown to the group. Members of the group commented that this was a good idea.

1.3. ILF Status Change

The ILF status has changed to Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). The User Service Manager talked about the implications of this change for the ILF and, about how, among other things, this would mean the ILF need to show greater efficiency and effectiveness and better accounting for public monies. This was a key factor behind work being carried out by the Business Development Directorate.

1.4. Business Development Directorate

The User Service Manager updated the group on the changes that had taken place since the last meeting. Namely, that Trevor Chapman had become the Information Project Manager and the Information and Service Directorate no longer existed. The new Business Development Directorate, headed by James Sanderson, had been established to take forward projects including consultation with users, process re-engineering, communication, payment assurance, Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act compliance and Race Equality Scheme. As an introduction to the work of the new directorate James Sanderson gave a presentation.

2. Business Development

2.1 Presentation by Business Development Director

James talked about the specific areas the directorate were looking at in 2005/2006:

· introducing the redesigned website and continuing development

· reviewing external forms and literature

· developing revised user service strategy

· establishing a baseline approach against external standards

· researching ways of providing support for users

· implementation of MIDAS (Matching Intelligent Data Analytical Services)

· increasing consultation with users

· developing system to assess ILF contribution to independent living

· developing protocols with users and local authorities

· developing a local authority consultation strategy

· completing Data Protection Act action plan

· redesigning processes for greater efficiency

· developing file content management framework

· considering different ways of organising workload

· creating efficiency indicators

He explained that during the next three years the Business Development Directorate would be focusing on redefining the User Service Strategy to ensure that it is adding value and supporting the ILF in making an effective contribution to independent living.

One of the most immediate areas of work is the implementation of the Payment Assurance Strategy. James explained how the ILF wants to ensure that it encourages record-keeping best practice for all users, that it finds ways of providing support or signposting support options for users, that it has up to date information about users and that the right people take responsibility for administering ILF payments if the user isn’t capable of doing so.

James said that the ILF does not want to be seen as an intrusive organisation and want to be fair and realistic about what records they ask people to keep of expenditure and how often they ask to see this. Members of the group spoke about how they have accumulated files full of receipts, invoices and time-sheets.

James spoke about consultation the ILF have already done, including work with The Experience Corps, and how the same concerns and issues are raised. Efficiency (particularly the time it takes to process an application for funding) is one area. James spoke about how the ILF is seeking ways to improve performance (for example, electronic document management and administrative restructure).

2.2 Discussion

The group agreed with the findings of The Experience Corps, that the ILF could be accused of lacking “passion” for the role it has to play in independent living, and that the organisation does not do enough to sell itself.

The group did not necessarily agree that the ILF should be a “one stop shop” for information (as it would need a lot of knowledge) but should play a role in signposting users to relevant support groups, etc. The group felt that every user’s case is different. Some people are able to look after everything themselves, but other people will need more support. Members of the group agreed that while it can be hard to get started with ILF, when it is up-and-running and working it is very good.

James said that he very much valued the contribution of the group and that consultation continued to be highly important to the organisation. He was particularly interested in the group’s involvement in the Payment Assurance project and it was suggested that this form the basis of the next meeting.

3 New leaflets

3.1. Introducing the new leaflets

Jane Jephson, Publications Manager, spoke about the need for a new range of leaflets. The User Guide had been put together with considerable input from the User Group. However, it contained a lot of information and some users had commented that it was unwieldy. There was also a need to make information that was more easily understood and accessible, for example, to people with learning disabilities. Jane and the User Service Manager had taken advice from experts in creating accessible literature (including Mencap and People First) as part of this redesign. The idea was to condense and simplify the information from the original User Guide leaflets into smaller, more colourful, illustrated leaflets.

The group were shown samples of the draft leaflets. Members of the group commented that the language used was very clear and direct and that the overall result was more user-friendly. They were the “right size” and the colours used were good (and would also be good for people with visual impairments). The font size was good too. There was a feeling that these type of leaflets were less daunting to read and that people would actually read them, rather than putting them to one side. The response to the leaflets was very positive.

4. Search for a tagline

4.1. Tagline idea

The Experience Corps had commented that as an organisation the ILF did not sell itself very well. They said we should be more direct about the contribution we make to independent living. With this in mind, the ILF may want to redesign their logo and also use a tagline to make it more clear what we do. The Business Development Director’s idea was “Creating Choice for Disabled People”. The group were shown a mock-up of how this might look on headed ILF stationery.

The User Service Manager wanted the group’s ideas about what words would make an effective statement about the ILF.

4.2. The group’s ideas

The group made various suggestions for taglines and keywords, including:

· Improving independent living

· Improving life choices

· Choice for life

· Opportunities

· Support

· Quality of life

· Enabling

· Inclusive

Questions were raised as to whether “people with disabilities” was a more appropriate phrase than “disabled people”. There were mixed feelings about this point.

5. User Newsletter plans

5.1. New-look for the newsletter

The User Service Manager showed the group a draft version of the forthcoming newsletter planned for publication in October. The newsletter is more colourful and aims for a more informal style. The User Service Manager particularly wanted the group’s opinions on an article included about the CEA cinema card scheme and the inclusion of a directory of services for disabled people. These were features that may possibly not be included as they could be construed as advertising, and the Data Protection Act may not permit their inclusion in a newsletter that goes out to all users (because we did not collect client data for that purpose).

The group liked the new style and felt that the newsletter read very well and that people would be more inclined to read it. They thought it was a good idea to include articles about services and suggested that the ILF might like to encourage users to send in their own advice and information that other users might want to know about. The group said that they, personally, did not feel that including these items was advertising and would not have a problem receiving such a publication.

6. Any Other Business

6.1. Next meeting scheduled for 3 November 2005

It was discussed that the next meeting would be specifically devoted to discussing issues around payment assurance. James Sanderson, the Business Development Director is keen to present the work that is being carried out in this area more thoroughly and to hear the thoughts and ideas of the group.

As this work is quite pressing for the ILF, it was planned that a meeting about this would take place on Thursday 3 November 2005.

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