Parkside Self Management Initiative

Parkside Self Management Initiative
Organisation: Parkside Foundation
Contact: Anne Summers

This project evaluated and documented the impacts of implementing a self-managed team in a rural location.

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The Context

In 2016, Parkside launched a trial with an existing team in a rural location to support them to become self-managing. This team delivers group centre-based and individual supports to people with a disability and the aged. The core team consisted of three to four employees.

The Problem

Distance from the central office created communication issues for the rural team. Further, central office staff did not have knowledge of specific community issues where services were being delivered. Research conducted by Parkside to address these issues indicated that redesigning support worker roles to local self-managed teams could overcome logistical difficulties such as recruitment, staff supervision, and supporting staff in the context of specific local issues.

The Solution

A year after the start of the trial, the team had made significant progress toward becoming self-managing. In addition, the team could identify impacts for clients. This warranted thorough evaluation and documentation for the purpose of implementation self-managed teams to other areas of Parkside and to providing guidance for other organisations. It was identified that a roll out of this model would require further consolidation and assessment of:

  • Risk management
  • Industrial relations
  • Policy and procedures
  • Training package
  • IT management systems
  • Evaluation

Expected Impact

The project set out to achieve the following:

  • Increase understanding of the impact of the trialled model on service user satisfaction with their supports and their perceived level of choice and control
  • Develop clarity on the training and frameworks needed to enable staff to work in a self-managed team
  • Identify and develop mitigation strategies for risk associated with the model 
  • Identify the business systems needed for a self-managed team, including position descriptions, employment contracts and other supporting documents
  • Identify the financial implications of the model, including any budget savings and roster efficiencies to determine sustainability of the model.

Stage and Spread

Speak Out, an advocacy service, has been engaged to interview service users and their families to evaluate their experience of the trial. Also, a consultant from the University of Tasmania will conduct interviews with the team members in order to evaluate their job satisfaction, attitudes, team culture, perceived strengths and need for further training. This will be achieved through one to one interviews and case stories which are planned to take place in March 2018.

Data collection on program options prior to the trial and options during trial has commenced. Data was gathered on the sick leave taken by members of the trial site in the financial year before the trial and the financial year during the trial period. Work sample logs have been completed for comparison between the self-managed team and a team operating under standard practices.

A policy template was provided by National Disability Services (NDS) and has been adapted for use by Parkside. The policy details decision making delegation. Work Health and Safety and Continuous Improvement has been included as a standing item in the fortnightly reporting document utilised throughout the trial. The reporting document will be continued to be used throughout the evaluation period.

Lessons and Insights

  • During the preparation of the project evaluation and learning plan, it became evident that Parkland underestimated the cost of engaging consultants to undertake the different elements of the evaluation of the self-managing trial. This has necessitated scaling back on what the consultants will provide and what will be undertaken with organisational resources.
  • Sick leave data of the trial team before and after the trial showed that the claim rate was unchanged. The rate of sick leave was also compared against another Parkside team of similar composition. In this comparison, the self-managing team claimed approximately 54% less sick leave.
  • In discussing the evaluation with the self-managed team, Parkside realised that expectations on the impact of the trial and consequences for the team had not been clear from the onset. More groundwork is needed to ensure that both the team and the organisation are on the same page. Parkland will review what is expected from the team and what the team can expect from the organisation before trialling a new way of working. The senior management team also need more education about how this type of trial impacts on their roles and what changes are needed for them to be able to support it.

Roadblocks and Risks

In their original project plan, Parkside has undertaken to review of position descriptions and duties of self-managed team members with the aim of establishing the level of remuneration classification and whether an increase would be viable for the organisation. By the end of 2017 clarity on these questions were needed as the trial team made it clear they wanted to see these resolved if they were to continue to work in a self-managed way. NDS supported Parkside to engage Jobs Australia to conduct a classification and duties review and to provide an advice report. The self-managed team was not satisfied with the classification level recommended in the report and decided to revert back to the standard team model.