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.
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.
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:
The project set out to achieve the following:
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.
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.