Disabled people asked to collaborate over new model

The best people to ask about how well public services are working are the people who use those services. It might sound obvious, but all too often things are designed to make life easy for the people who run the service, often at the expense of the user. Have you tried phoning your bank recently?! A project known as Collaborate Essex is seeking to use that simple premise as the basis for a brand-new model to support the design and development of services to disabled people. And it needs anyone with a disability or any carer who looks after someone with a disability, to share their experiences and their opinions.

The work has been commissioned by Essex County Council and is being delivered by HWE Insights, which is a subsidiary of the local charity Healthwatch Essex. The Council has asked HWE Insights to work with disabled people to be radical in designing a new model to help the council to listen to people with experience of disability when designing and providing services and support.

Tom Nutt, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex, said, “The Council has been very honest about the fact they don’t think things work as well as they should in terms of involving disabled people in the design and planning of services. We have always concentrated on evidencing the ‘lived experience’ of service users and we will adopt the same approach with this project.

“The detail about what works and what doesn’t can only really come from those people who access services and understand disability from a personal perspective, so it is them we are targeting in designing a new approach for future service thinking and design.”

With a six-week period of engagement, the Collaborate Essex team is urging anyone with a disability to have their say as soon as possible. An online survey is available to complete at www.collaborateessex.org.uk and there are already a host of events lined up too.

There is also a film and a podcast planned for the website, which will see key players right up to the Chief Executive of the County Council, Gavin Jones, outlining what they want to achieve through this project.

“I think it is worth stressing that this really is a huge opportunity to influence change that will make a lasting impact,” explained Tom. “The Council isn’t just asking whether one service or one element of a service might be changed, it is looking at all services provided to disabled people across the board.

“That’s why we have stressed the need to collaborate with disabled people. This work will promote a sea change in terms of understanding and integrate the experience of disability into the Council’s work”.

Once the new model has been developed, based to a large extent on the experience of disability shared in its design, it will be presented to the County Council, which will then work with partners to ensure that it is effectively implemented.  Read more click here.

For more information on the work of Healthwatch Essex visit www.healthwatchessex.org.uk and check out the Lived Experience training course.

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