Families and self advocates are helping to design a new service that’s slated to be added to CLBC’s catalogue of services in 2018. The new service will go beyond traditional day programs to connect individuals with employment and personal development opportunities and support stronger social participation in their community.
Temporarily named Advancing New Support Options (ANSO), the three-year CLBC project grew out of CLBC’s Community Action Employment Plan where one of the threads of work was transforming day services.
Individuals and their families told CLBC they want balance in their lives; employment plus opportunities for on-going learning, meaningful connection to the community and a sense of belonging with friends and family.
Danielle Oldale in Powell River got involved with the ANSO project to provide her perspective as a parent.
“I think it’s important to have more options,” Danielle said. “Service needs to be looked at as 24/7, not just 9 to 5 or 9 to 3. It’s all-encompassing for some families depending on how high the need of the individual is. That’s why they were doing this project to develop something that’s going to be worthwhile for families and individuals. These individuals need to be part of the mainstream landscape, and an important, integral part.”
Danielle added if you don’t find out what the families or individuals want, all of the work would be for naught.
The first stage of the project was to scout out service providers who had already been providing new types of service. The project then formed five design teams in Delta, Kamloops, Langley, Powell River and Victoria, each made up of a service user, a family member, a service provider and a CLBC staff member. The teams took part in a three-month paper prototyping exercise using a user-driven design methodology.
Cynthia Roling, Executive Director of Milieu Family Services, was on the Delta design team.
“At Milieu, we support people to not be attached to a centre for their community inclusion services,” said Cynthia. “The project reinforced the importance of user-based perspectives because as a service provider it’s very easy to get into a model of what we think individuals or family members want. But when faced with the questions, the answers we hear from individuals can be quite different.”
Cynthia observed that self advocates were reaffirming that they wanted a new type of service being considered by ANSO.
“They want to be supported to be more independent and have support where they need it, when they need it, and not be attached or prescribed to a program,” said Cynthia.
The design teams kicked things off with a three-day design dive last March that helped identify the key features that each team would go away and work on:
- Information and Influence – How can individuals and their families receive and use information about the new service and make informed choices?
- The Request for Qualifications – How can CLBC best secure qualified service providers to provide this new service?
- Funding and Reporting – What is the best way to fund and report on the new service?
- Evaluation – How and in what ways and with who should service be evaluated to ensure continuous improvement and relevance for users?
- Front End Experience – From staff roles to coordination to scheduling, what needs to happen in order to offer the new service well?
The intent of the prototyping phase wasn’t to come up with a product or service but rather to inform the principles that need to be part of the future design element.
“The three months of paper prototyping proved to be a dynamic, challenging, mostly enlightening and sometimes exhausting experience for the teams,” said Maggie Vilvang, Principal of the Community Living Innovation Venture who worked in partnership with CLBC on the project. “Teams set up spaces to innovate in and established a regular weekly rhythm of generating, testing and refining solutions. They honed their research questions, invited their test users and bravely floated their trial balloons.” The five design teams came back together in July to share what they had learned and attempt to integrate lessons learned.
“We’ve heard from families that sometimes it’s hard to say yes to employment so a pure employment program wouldn’t address all their needs,” said Jack Styan, CLBC’s VP of Strategic Initiatives. “This new service will advance community inclusion through a combination of employment, personal development and strengthening people’s informal support networks.”
The project is now combining the work of the five design teams to create a new service stream that can be tested and integrated into CLBC programs and services. This winter, the paper testing phase will take place followed by the live trials phase. The service will be adjusted and refined based on user testing before its targeted launch in mid-2018. The new service would be an option for individuals and families to choose rather than changing or replacing existing services that CLBC offers.