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User Group Review 2005

Background

The Client User Group was set up in September 2001 with a remit to provide a forum for consultation with and feedback from Funds’ users about service issues. The remit specifically excluded consultation on policy.

The group is chaired by a user from Nottingham who was invited to take up this role by the previous Chairman of the Trustees and the members of the group are volunteers from both Extension and 93 Fund users and their carers in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester, Leicestershire, Derby and Derbyshire. In the past there have also been representatives from Sheffield.

The Information and Service Director and the User Service Manager attend the meetings.

During the past year there have only been 4 meetings of the group. Meetings were held every 2 months until November 2004 when it was agreed to hold the meetings once a quarter. The February meeting was cancelled due to bad weather.

The group has consisted of between 10 and 15 members at any one time but during this year the maximum attendance at a meeting has been 6.

During the year exercises were carried out to attract new members to the group and there was some interest shown but ultimately none of the prospective new members have attended a meeting.

This Year

A wide range of issues have been covered at the meetings and these have resulted in positive action being taken by the ILF in response to our users feedback and comments.

Information to Users re increases

The group discussed ILF policy on reviews and awarding increases and suggested that the user newsletter should include an article to explain to users that a review could be requested at any time, not just at 2 yearly reviews.
This suggestion was taken forward in the newsletter.

Automatic Inflationary Increases

The group raised this issue and discussed at some length their views that the ILF should consider this.
Fed back to policy development team.

Guidelines for Users on ILF allowable costs

The group suggested that ILF literature include clear guidelines.
To be considered in literature review.

Annual Report

Members of the group made an input to the Annual Report item on the group and also submitted quotes about their involvement.
Included in the report.

Naidex

At the groups suggestion DWP were provided with ILF literature for their stall at the Naidex show. (Naidex is one of the largest shows for disabled people in the country held annually.)

Literature for Members

Members of the group asked for supplies of Funds’ literature for distribution within their peer groups and other organisations they were involved with.
This led to the development of new information leaflet now in general use.

Timesheets

The group considered the merits of producing model timesheets for use by ILF clients. Members contributed ones they use. It was agreed that one single model would not suit all. Comments fed into literature review.

FAQS

The group suggested Frequently Asked Questions that users might ask for inclusion in website and newsletters. A FAQ section is now included in the newsletter and website FAQ has been updated.

Flexibility of ILF awards

Group members felt that staff were not appreciating the flexible use of awards over a period of time and asked that this be clarified with staff.
Fed back through operations managers meetings.

Aspects of living independently

The group shared their experiences of other agencies and issues they have to deal with in order to organise their lives. “Independent living is a full time job”.

Groups list to be used in diversity training.

The group also discussed and identified their “hidden costs” of employing PAs and this information was submitted to the policy development team.

Preferred Language

The group made suggestions about the preferred language to be used in communications.

A guide has been issued to all staff.

Payment Assurance

The group shared their views and experience that might help inform the development of the payment assurance project. In particular they identified that different local authorities used differing auditing processes and that their experiences of local support available (and its quality) differed widely.

The group felt that the ILF needed to take a commonsense approach to unused funding saved for employment related costs and that more support was needed for potential users at an early stage in the process.

All comments and feedback to Payment Assurance Manager.

Website development

The website developers, Chapter Eight Ltd. met with the group and obtained feedback on their proposed designs.

Development has taken account of groups feedback.

Data Protection

The group discussed the issue of communication and identification, suggesting some formal identification process, password system or agreed contacts.

As part of the discussions, points were also raised about speaking to a customer on the phone when others might be present and identifying users preferred communication methods.

Identification of callers to be addressed in DPA review, staff reminded of confidentiality issues, including ensuring the client is able/wants to speak with them, and preferred communication methods now available but system for accessing to be developed.

During the year, therefore, the group have covered a wide range of issues and have made contributions in a number of service areas. Many of the discussions have produced valuable information about how a group of users view the issues and there have been some practical points identified that have been put into practice to improve our communication with users.

Trevor Chapman
Information and Service Director
01/04/05

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