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Guide Dogs Queensland Client Services Charter

Introduction and Purpose

Guide Dogs Queensland (GDQ) is a registered Charity and a registered service provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). GDQ has a responsibility to its key stakeholders (Organisation, Clients, and Donor Community) to ensure that it:

This document aims to provide clients with information about what you can expect from GDQ and the way that we will provide your services.

This charter also compliments other safeguards provided to people with disability through the Disability Services Act 2006 and the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000.

This charter applies to access to the following intervention-based Client Services:

Service Delivery

Guide Dogs Queensland (GDQ) provides supports and therapy aimed at reducing the potential disadvantage of vision impairment. Our multi-disciplinary specialist team works with Queenslanders who have low or no vision in assisting them to:

Our services include information and referral services, Orientation and Mobility, Occupational Therapy, Guide Dog Services, Psychology services, Assistive Technology, and early intervention programs for children.

State-wide Service Delivery

The service is delivered across Queensland with regional offices based in Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. Outreach services are provided to other areas and scheduled on a regular basis and/or as need arises. Group programs can be delivered on-site at GDQ’s facility located in Bald Hills or otherwise in regional areas.

Service Delivery in the event of emergencies or disasters

In the event of services not being able to be delivered as planned due to an emergency or disaster situation, GDQ will consult with its clients who are impacted by these events, and their stakeholders to discuss and agree a suitable alternative, such as delivering services online (e.g. on Teams), or another acceptable and safe solution.

Education and Referral

GDQ plays an active role in building community understanding of the needs of people living with a vision impairment. GDQ provides information about vision impairment, services to people with vision impairment, public access and safety relevant to vision disability, and referrals to appropriate organisations.

Access to Service

It is the policy of GDQ to provide services to people with low or no vision throughout Queensland in a non-discriminatory manner based on individual relative need.

Eligibility Criteria

A person is eligible to receive services from GDQ when:

The person may also:

In addition to meeting the above criteria, a person is eligible to apply for a Guide Dog as a primary mobility aid, if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The motivation to train and work with a Guide Dog in the long term.
  2. The ability to achieve and maintain the leadership role in the person/Guide Dog relationship.
  3. The physical ability and the appropriate ongoing health status to manage a Guide Dog.
  4. The functional orientation to the routes and destinations that the person intends to use with a Guide Dog.
  5. Sufficient work for the Guide Dog to maintain its safe guiding skills.
  6. A level of vision loss requiring a primary mobility aid.
  7. The capacity to demonstrate independent and safe road crossings (including the use of appropriate assistance).
  8. A safe and supportive home environment.
  9. Access to the required resources (including financial and emotional resources) to maintain a Guide Dog’s ongoing health and temperamental wellbeing.
  10. The ability to understand, retain and implement instructions related to the establishment and to consistently maintain safe and independent Guide Dog mobility.
  11. The willingness to comply (by signed acknowledgement) with Guide Dog Queensland’s policies on Animal Welfare and the Guide Dog Users’ Agreement (copies of the Agreement are available upon request).
  12. The willingness to provide (by signed acknowledgement) full and complete medical information, (this may include diabetic, renal, audiogram, neurological reports, etc) necessary for the provision of a successful Guide Dog mobility training program.
  13. Must be a citizen OR permanent resident of Australia, to be allocated a Guide dog from GDQ.

Priority of Service

When allocating client referrals for service provision, the following priorities are considered:

When any of these circumstances are present, the person taking the referral will consult with one of the following: the Client Service Manager or the General Manager of Client Services to determine an appropriate priority of service.

Wait List Management

Clients may experience a waiting period when accessing a service. This has particular relevance to clients requesting a Guide Dog, residential class program, or counselling service. GDQ is committed to:

Referral

Referrals for GDQ services are accepted from a variety of individuals and organisations on the proviso that the client has given consent to be referred. Some common referral sources include self, family, friends, medical practitioners, eye care professionals, and community service organisations.

Initial Assessment

An initial assessment is undertaken:

At assessment, if it is determined by Client Services staff that a program would be beneficial for the client, the program can proceed if:

The client is also made aware of GDQ’s complaints and incident management policies and processes, and documents are provided in the preferred format.

Exit from Service Provision

As specified in the Client Rights and Responsibilities Statement, a client may exit from a service provided by GDQ at any time if they no longer require the service. It is made clear to the client that they are welcome to access GDQ services at any future stage as required. Assistance or information regarding onward referral to other service providers is also made available at this time.

Declining a Service

GDQ recognises that there may be instances where a service is declined by a client or where the client is deemed unsuitable for a service through the assessment process (e.g., assessment for a Guide Dog). When this occurs GDQ will ensure that clients are:

GDQ may decline or withdraw from a service on the following basis:

Clients who are declined a service may re-apply for re-assessment when or if there is a change in the client’s condition or situation (ie.g. physical, psychological, environmental, etc.).

Re-applying for Service

Clients can re-apply for a service in the event that they decline a service or they face an unsuccessful assessment for the use of a service. If services are declined, reasons are documented in the client’s record.

GDQ aims to provide clients with an efficient and equitable complaint process, which adheres to the principles of natural justice, for the timely resolution of problems.

Continuity of Supports

If a worker is temporarily unavailable to work with a client, the client will be given the choice of postponing an appointment or working with another worker.

If a worker resigns, clients are consulted regarding requirements for replacement worker. These will be considered in the recruitment and selection process as much as possible.

Complaints Management

The complaints procedure aims to:

GDQ’s Complaints Management Policy outlines the procedures and timeframes to be followed for each stage of the complaint process. A copy of this policy can be provided to clients at any time in a preferred format.

Incident Management

If accidents or incidents do occur, they will be managed promptly and appropriately. Procedures and related forms exist to ensure that management are informed and immediate and follow up actions are taken to support persons affected, and incidents investigated to ensure that the possibility of recurrence or further risk is minimised.

Hazard inspection, hazard reporting and maintenance programs are in place to minimise workplace accidents or dangerous occurrences.

Risk Management

Clients will be encouraged to participate in the design of their service provision and supported to make informed choices about the benefits and risks of the service delivery options under consideration. GDQ staff will balance duty of care obligations with acknowledgement of the dignity of risk in clients’ lives. Where risks are present, approaches will be used that support the client to achieve their goals in as safe a manner as possible.

Continuous Improvement

GDQ’s person centred service delivery is focused on delivering quality services, consider the needs of clients, and is part of an overall quality system to assess the standard of care and services on an ongoing basis.

Privacy Policy

GDQ staff will ensure that clients’ privacy and dignity is always respected. Any information collected about clients will be limited to information necessary for services and functions and will remain private and confidential as defined in the GDQ Privacy Policy.

Client Rights & Responsibilities

GDQ acknowledges that services are best provided in an atmosphere of mutual respect between the people using services provided by GDQ and GDQ staff. Clients rights and responsibilities apply to all clients using and receiving services provided by GDQ.

A statement of client rights and responsibilities is provided to clients in the format of their choice to ensure standards and expectations are clearly defined in support of the GDQ’s open and professional approach to creating positive client relationships. If a client refuses a copy, this refusal is noted on the assessment form.

In summary,
• GDQ respects the privacy of all clients and respects their rights as detailed in our Client Rights and Responsibilities Statement.
• All information pertaining to clients will remain private and confidential and be released only with the express written permission of the client(s). Exceptions to this rule are noted in the Client Rights and Responsibilities Statement.

Non-discriminatory and Culturally Inclusive Practices

GDQ is committed to the cultural rights of all people and will build awareness and capability for remaining sensitive to and inclusive of different cultural groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Human Rights Statement

GDQ fully endorses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and believes that this Convention contains the clearest and most authoritative expression of the human rights of people with disability.

We follow the Convention by recognising that loss of human rights for those with a disability result from the attitudinal and environmental barriers that prevent or limit people with disability to participate fully, equally and independently in society. We assert strongly that the human rights of people with disability can be fully achieved only when these discriminatory barriers are eliminated.

GDQ supports the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular:

Client Information Management

To assist in the delivery of services and in line with our commitment to privacy, all client service-related records are stored in a client database. The database is accessible through a password protected site. Electronic storage of client information is protected by internal firewall and encrypted database management system, user access and related domain access control rights administered by GDQ IT systems and authorised by either the General Manager or HR. All data and progress notes relating to client contact are entered by approved client services staff. All records and files remain in secure storage for at least seven years from the date of expiry or as determined by retention requirements.

Procedures for Accessing and Disclosing Information

Access to client information is secured and only available to approved persons related to client service-delivery or IT management. All such persons are required to sign and adhere to our Confidentiality Agreement.

The Privacy Policy outlines the process by which clients can gain access to their own personal file upon request.

Disclosure of information to external agencies can only be made with the client’s consent except in the event of a medical emergency. Clients are made aware of the confidentiality of their personal information through the Client Rights and Responsibilities Statement clients agree to upon registration for a service.

Service Delivery Procedures and Forms

To accurately document service delivery and maintain current client information there is a full suite of forms utilised by Client Services. Accurate completion and maintenance of these documents ensures the delivery of optimal client service.

Forms commonly used in delivering regular client services include:

Request for Service

Completed at time of referral. A client database file (Client Profile) is then created and their details added, including contact information, communication preferences, mobility aid type/size, and documentation of any information regarding the referral such as urgency, special directives, or client or staff safety concerns.

Individual Program Plan (IPP)

Developed by the Practitioner in conjunction with the client (and advocate if desired by client) and signed off on by both client and Practitioner. It specifies the client’s goals and program objectives, time frames and location of delivery of services. A copy of the IPP is offered to the client.

Medical History

Clients complete a Self-Assessment Medical Form. If required based on the responses, a form is provided to the client to take to their doctor (GP) for completion and return prior to program commencement. This medical information is considered in the context of the personalised plan to ensure that the health and wellbeing needs of each client are considered.

Program Progress Notes

Document ongoing program notes, detailing the objective of each program session and the outcome. Progress notes can be made directly onto the client’s online record on the database by clicking ‘Add Note’ within the client’s programs section of their file.

Funding Position Statement

Funding Sources

GDQ Services are made possible through a combination of donor and government funding. This section outlines the key funding supports and how GDQ will work with clients to maximise their access, choice, and control related to funding:

NDIS:

People under 65 years, an Australian resident and who have a significant and permanent disability are eligible for the NDIS.

DVA:

Clients who are eligible for funding under the DVA Support Packages.

Donor Funding:

All clients at GDQ receive a level of donor funding for the services they receive, including those with NDIS funding. Specifically, donor funding is utilised when clients:

In order to ensure equity and transparency related to use of donor funds, the following business rules are framed:

Equipment

When a NDIS client needs additional equipment such as canes or electronic mobility aids and this is not provided for in their plan, GDQ can support the client to have their plan reviewed and the General Manager may authorise one off supply of a cane.

Guide Dogs

For clients assessed as suitable for a guide dog, if a client is:

  1. not eligible for NDIS funding, has
  2. been denied NDIS funding or
  3. chooses not to access government funding for a guide dog,
  4. then consideration for donor funding for a guide dog will be provided to the General Manager, Guide Dog Services for review.

Service Agreements

In conjunction with our Client Charter, Service Agreements set out the rights and responsibilities of the organisation and clients in relation to services provided. They are a key part of the continuous improvement of GDQ’s services to clients.

To promote client-led and goal-oriented service delivery, GDQ will collaborate with all NDIS clients to have a Service Agreement (SA) in place prior to commencing services.

Service Agreements provide a clear plan for clients and staff about the types and amounts of service that will be provided to enable clients to achieve their goals. In time, the aim is for all GDQ clients to have a Service Agreement, regardless of the source of their funding.

Service Agreements will cover service hours that are provided directly to the client either face to face or via tele-practice. Service Agreements may also cover time spent on agreed non-face-to-face time required e.g. report writing.

For NDIS funded clients, GDQ will seek consent from the client to allocate hours in the service agreement for travel time and program support required to enable clients to meet their goals. Clients will not be disadvantaged if they do not consent to non-face to face time being claimed in their Service Agreements. However, alternative arrangements, for example, tele-health services, may be made where non-face-to-face time is not agreed to.

To start up services clients will:

Urgent Services

A client’s need for GDQ services will be deemed as urgent where it relates to:

These areas will be covered at the point of contact with the Pathways team and escalated to the relevant Discipline Lead for response within 24 hours as part of a risk assessment escalation process.

Cancellations

In the event of client advised absence, the cancellation guidelines noted in Service Agreements will be applied. Where applicable for NDIS funded clients, cancellation rates will be charged at the rate in the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits. Exceptional circumstances will be escalated to the relevant General Manager for consideration.

Services will be suspended in the event of 3 sessions cancelled by the client across all programs with less than 48 hours’ notice within a twelve-month period. Discussions will be held with the client to determine how to best support them to access services.

Invoices

Where a client is eligible for government funding, and invoice will be issued with the following payment terms:

NDIS Agency or Plan Managed: 14 days from invoice date

NDIS Self-Managed: 14 days from invoice date

Aged Care or DVA Funding: 14 days from invoice date

Private Health Insurance or Medicare funding: payment due immediately after service if a gap payment is required.

Debt Management

For clients who are funding services through NDIS via plan managed or self-managed modes, non-payment of invoices within the due date may result in service being suspended. If the fault in payment lies with the Plan Manager, clients will not be disadvantaged in accessing service.

In all other cases, following advice to the client that services are being suspended, the Pathways team will liaise with the client to work through options. Services will be resumed once fees for the non-funded sessions have been recovered.

Residential and On-site Services

Residential Classes

Residential classes are available at times determined by GDQ to clients and are held on-campus at Bald Hills. The range of programs may include:

Residential Cancellation Policy

In the event of client advised absence, the cancellation guidelines noted in Service Agreements will be applied. Where applicable for NDIS funded clients, cancellation rates will be charged at the rate in the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits. Exceptional circumstances will be escalated to the relevant General Manager for consideration.

Residential Program Contribution Fee

Where a client does not have access to funding through a NDIS plan or other funding source a daily contribution fee will apply. This contribution fee goes towards the running costs of the class, e.g., accommodation, meals and the time and expertise of the instructors to run the program.

Clients will be invoiced for the program contribution fee in advance once they have confirmed their attendance on the residential program. Payment of the contribution fee will secure a client’s place on the program. Details of the available payment methods will be outlined on the invoice provided.

If you are financially disadvantaged, you may apply to the GDQ Benevolent Fund and if successful in your application the program contribution fee will be waived. Applications should be made in writing to the General Manager of Client Services outlining the reasons for your request. The General Manager will review your application and advise if your application has been successful.

Residential Program Cancellation Refunds of Daily Contribution Fee (if applicable)

Where a client has been invoiced their daily contribution fee and provides 2 weeks or more notice of their intention to cancel their attendance on the residential program they will receive a 100% refund of their program contribution fee.

Where a client has been invoiced their daily contribution fee and provides less than 2 weeks’ notice of their intention to cancel their attendance on the residential program they will receive a 50% refund of their contribution fee.

If the program is cancelled by GDQ then clients will be notified and will receive a full refund of any monies paid.

NB: The above will not apply for clients who are late entrants to the program.

Meeting Individual Client Needs

GDQ provides individualised Orientation & Mobility, Guide Dog, Occupational Therapy, Assistive Technology and Psychology services to its clients. Program design and implementation is based on the involvement and decision making of the client at all stages of the service process. Policies and procedures are in place for consistent practice in developing personalised plans and encompass least restrictive practice.

To ensure that GDQ provides an individualised service which is specific to each client, a plan is completed for each client. The plan is developed by the GDQ specialist in conjunction with the individual and, if requested, an advocate nominated by the client. A copy of the IPP is provided to the client if desired.

In providing services to people with vision impairments GDQ has the responsibility to provide services in a professional manner which respects the rights of clients. GDQ has various obligations and responsibilities, including those of positive and professional service, client involvement in decision making, privacy and confidentiality.

Client Privacy, Dignity and Confidentiality

GDQ workers have the responsibility of observing confidentiality and privacy in all client matters, as well as treating clients with respect and dignity. As stated in the Client Rights and Responsibilities Statement, regarding dignity, confidentiality and privacy, clients receiving services from GDQ can expect:

Policies and Procedures to Maintain Dignity and Privacy

GDQ has privacy and confidentiality policies that are consistent with relevant privacy legislation and principles. GDQ has proactive practices in place to ensure that the dignity of service users, in relation to their individual needs and circumstances, are respected.

Service users are provided with information regarding the collection, storage, disposal, and accessibility of personal information

Service users are provided with access to an independent support person of their choice to assist them in all matters relating to the collection, storage, disposal, and accessibility of personal information.

GDQ does not disclose personal information about service users without their informed consent.

GDQ has safeguards in place (including policies and procedures) to ensure that only information, which is relevant to the service/s provided, is collected and stored.

Service staff are required to outline to clients their rights and responsibilities. This is ensured by the requirement for the Client Rights and Responsibility policy being read in full provided to clients at the commencement of contact.

If there is reasonable suspicion that an individual’s need for privacy, dignity or confidentiality has been undermined, the matter should be addressed through management or alternatively by following the steps outlined in the GDQ Complaints Policy.

Information Recorded by GDQ

GDQ is committed to keeping only the minimum essential client information necessary to the effective servicing of client’s needs.

Examples of the type of information recorded include one or more of the following:

Clients are encouraged to ask questions such as:

Client Participation in Decision Making

GDQ recognises that people who have low or no vision have the right to determine the appropriate services for themselves and accordingly encourage them to take part in the decision-making process both at an individual level and at service or organisational level.

Client Participation and Integration

GDQ’s services are focused on promoting independence and access to the community through enhancing clients’ mobility skills and awareness of community organisations, government services, social networking opportunities and transport options. GDQ’s services recognise the valuable role all individuals have in the community and aim to enhance the opportunities of clients to access and contribute, in a valued way, to community life. Clients are provided with information on a range of services available in their local communities at the time of assessment, and throughout the training program.

GDQ values the input of clients to ensure a continuous improvement process. As part of the feedback system clients are provided the opportunity to give feedback about the services they have received. This occurs through:

Preventing and Responding to the Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability

Our Commitment

The Disability Services Act 2006 recognises that people with disability have the same human rights as other members of society and should be empowered to exercise their rights. These include the right to:

This is best achieved through an integrated approach that targets the cultural, environmental and interpersonal causes of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Guide Dogs Queensland (GDQ) is committed to preventing and responding to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability.

GDQ will:

Strategies

GDQ utilises the following strategies to prevent, identify and respond to abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability:

Prevention of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

Identification of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

Effective Response

Service Development, Coordination and Delivery

Workforce and Workplace Reform

The workplace culture supports continuous learning and professional development to respond to the needs of individuals being supported.

Child Safety

GDQ is committed to ensuring the safety of all children with whom we work. Information on strategies used by GDQ staff to this is available in GDQ’s Child Safety Handbook as well as on GDQ’s website.

Coles has unleashed a new national fundraising campaign for Guide Dogs

From now until 21 May, Coles will donate five cents for every dog food product sold.