Client Services Charter
Guide Dogs Queensland Client Services Charter
Guide Dogs Queensland (GDQ) provides supports aimed at reducing the potential disadvantage of vision impairment.
The role of Client Services
Our specialist team work with Queenslanders who have low or no vision in assisting them to:
- Adjust to living with vision loss
- Gain the skills and confidence to maintain their independence and achieve their individual goals
- Connect with the people and resources they need.
Our services include information and referral service, specialised Orientation and Mobility services, Occupational Therapy, Guide Dog Services, a Psychology service, Better Living programs, , Assistive Technology services, and early intervention programs for children.
A multi-disciplinary team is employed to deliver these programs.
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 all other areas and scheduled on a regular basis and/or as need arises. Group programs are delivered on-site at GDQ’s residential facility located in Bald Hills or otherwise in regional areas, in the community and in the home.
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 via telehealth, or other acceptable safe solution.
Education and Referral
GDQ also 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.
Policies relating to Client Service Delivery
A suite of policies, procedures and forms have been developed to ensure quality services to clients. All staff are inducted in these policies during orientation and are required to familiarise themselves with them and abide by them. The most current versions can be accessed on the Quality portal.
New policies are developed and existing policies are reviewed on an annual basis.
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 on the basis of individual relative need.
Eligibility for services
Queensland residents are eligible to receive services from GDQ when:
- The person has a vision loss that is permanent or likely to be permanent (i.e. loss of vision is irreversible, chronic, unresponsive to intervention measures, unable to be sufficiently corrected by spectacles).
- The vision loss results in a reduction of the person’s capacity to be safely and independently mobile. The person may also:
- experience difficulty, distress or frustration in relation to their sight loss
- experience difficulty with activities of daily living as a result of their vision loss.
Priority of Service
When allocating client referrals for service provision, the following priorities are considered:
- Has the person being referred for service recently experienced sudden vision loss?
- Does the person face safety issues?
- Is the person isolated and unable to access supports to assist with daily living?
- Has the referring medical/eye health practitioner or other health care provider requested an urgent referral?
- Does the person require service to enable them to access vocational training, tertiary study and or employment, or to prevent loss of study or employment opportunities?
- Has the person displayed symptoms of severe emotional distress?
When any of these circumstances are present, the person taking the referral will consult with one of the following: the Allied Health Manager, a Discipline Lead or the General Manager of Client Services to determine an appropriate priority of service.
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.
An initial assessment is undertaken:
- To ascertain the urgency and nature of the support required
- To collect information relevant to the client’s needs and current support services
- To provide information about the scope of GDQ services and other community services
- To assess which GDQ and/or other services would be beneficial for the client
- To determine what funding, if any, is available to the client.
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 indicates they are willing to participate in a training program, to be involved in the design of the program, and to sign off on an individual service plan (Individual Program Plan or IPP) which details the objectives of the program and timeframes. The involvement of another person nominated by the client to assist the client in understanding, developing and undertaking the program is welcomed. GDQ ensures that the client is aware that they can access interpreter services if necessary.
- The client is fully aware and accepting of their rights and responsibilities as they relate to receiving services from GDQ. These rights and responsibilities are documented in the Client Rights and Responsibilities Statement which is provided to the client at assessment in print form, and reviewed with the client at this time. The document can be provided in alternative formats should they be required and this choice is offered to clients.
- 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:
- Provided with a rationale for this decision
- Offered alternative programs or services to meet their needs both now and in the future
- Not disadvantaged from accessing services in the future.
Client Services may decline or withdraw from a service on the following basis:
- Client’s need for service is not established and/or the assessment of risk indicates the client to be an unsuitable fit for the service(s)
- Inappropriate placement of a dog (dog welfare and safety) and/or the assessment of risk indicates the client to be an unsuitable fit for the service(s)
- Inappropriate referral provided
- Service required by a client is outside the scope of services provided (note that at this point, GDQ will refer the client to other options, and/or where relevant place the client on a waiting list).
- The client doesn’t abide by the Client Rights and Responsibilities as agreed.
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 (i.e. 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.
The complaints procedure aims to:
- Ensure the client is valued, heard and responded to in a timely manner
- Encourage the prompt resolution of a complaint through exploration and conciliatory resolution
- Promote efficiency, effectiveness and continuous improvement
- Ensure better service outcomes.
GDQ’s Complaints Management Policy outlines the procedures and timeframes to be followed for each stage of the complaint process. All complaints are to be registered within the Quality Department.
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.
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’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.
Preventing and Responding to Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation
GDQ is committed to preventing and responding to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability. GDQ’s commitment and principles of prevention, identification and response to abuse, neglect or exploitation of people with a disability are outlined in POL 4007 Preventing and Responding to Abuse Neglect and Exploitation of People With a Disability.
Client File 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.
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 which is reviewed with clients upon registration for a service.
Service Delivery Procedures and Forms
In order 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.
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.
Residential and On-site Services
Residential classes are available to clients and are held on-campus at the client residence at Bald Hills. A series of regular programs are run at the centre and may include:
- Foundations O&M – basic long cane skills training utilising the grounds of the Bald Hills Centre and the quiet residential neighbourhoods of Sandgate and Bracken Ridge
- Advanced O&M – advanced mobility skills training including the use of public transport, advanced travel planning, city travel and more complex road crossings
- Electronic Travel Aids (ETA)
- Children’s Camps
- Young People’s Program
- Better Living Programs – group-based counselling programs including targeted sessions for men, women, couples, and young people
- Guide Dog Classes – Guide Dog mobility skills program, held either as a residential or domiciliary class.
Residential Fee and Cancellation Policy
It also outlines the cancellation policy that will apply if a client cancels their attendance on a residential program and provides information on the process for applying to the GDQ Benevolent Fund for those clients who wish to have the contribution fee waived on the grounds of financial hardship.
Residential Program Contribution Fee
Where a client does not have access to funding through an 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. Payment can be made by credit card or direct bank transfer to Guide Dogs Queensland. 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, Occupational Therapy, Assistive Technology and Psychology services to its clients, with program design and implementation 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 employees and volunteers 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, with regard to dignity, confidentiality and privacy, clients receiving services from GDQ can expect:
- To have minimal intrusion into their personal activities and lives
- To have control of their personal space and home
- To have staff only enter the client’s home after permission has been granted, and after they have introduced and identified themselves
- To have staff make prior appointments by telephone (or agreed correspondence) before visiting a client
- To have the choice to have an advocate or friend present when undertaking assessment, training or follow up activities
- To have access to an interpreter if required
- To have personal information kept confidential and only accessible to staff members directly in contact with the client
- To have their permission sought before any information is accessed by people other than those directly involved in servicing the client
- To be aware of the information kept on file, and the storage, maintenance and disposal procedures in place for this personal information
- To be aware that they are able to access their file.
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 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:
- Name/address/telephone number/email contact (if offered)
- Medical history
- Notes regarding staff visits/contacts
- Individual program plans
Clients are encouraged to ask questions such as:
- What information is kept about them
- How they can access this information
- How they can receive a copy of requested information in the format of their choice.
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 develops, implements and reviews support services that progressively build opportunities for inclusion into the local community
- GDQ promotes the use of social networks and informal supports for service users.
- GDQ promotes service users’ use of local or alternative community services.
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:
- A questionnaire/ evaluation which is conducted at the conclusion of programs, or by telephone.
- The opportunity to provide feedback at the time of final session review
- This feedback is provided to the General Manager of Client Services. The results of this process are incorporated into organisational planning processes and used to enhance future service delivery.
- Feedback provided through the complaints process is also used to improve and review services and program.