If you are a DES participant (or eligible to be one), the recent changes provide more choice for you. It also means more Providers competing for your business. While this may seem like a good thing, a lot of choice can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing. And multiple offers from Providers could make it difficult to work out which one truly is offering the best service for you. So we decided to provide some guidance on how best to go about choosing your Provider and what questions would best help you figure that out.
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1. What is your service approach?
Most providers make broad claims about the quality of their service, but do they provide detail on what that actually means? By asking a provider what their approach is, you are testing their ability to support their broad claims. What you need to listen out for is how much they centre their approach around YOU. Do they focus on your needs, your goals, your abilities, your interests and your aspirations? And how do they go about matching you with potential employers?
2. What are your company values and how are they demonstrated in your service?
Again, most Providers will have stated values, but how much they are demonstrated in their service will vary enormously. If a consultant cannot state what the company values are, you can reasonably assume that they are not widely followed. However, if they can list the values AND explain how they are demonstrated in their service, then you can be reasonably assured that their service will reflect their values well.
3. On average, how long does it take you to get someone into work?
The reality is that it will be difficult for any Provider to give you a firm average in answer to this question. All people are different and their pathways to employment are different too. However, their answer should highlight that very fact. So if they don’t, that suggests they have a more cookie cutter type approach to their service. In other words, their service isn’t designed for the individual as much as it is a number game for them – get them in and get them in to work, then move on to the next one. That can work for some people, but for many it doesn’t. What you’re looking for with this question is some indication that they try very hard and apply a lot of patience and commitment to finding work for ALL their participants.
4. What are the biggest challenges you deal with in getting someone with disability into work?
An experienced and successful Provider will likely respond to this question along the lines of there not being one single or obvious challenge that is either more common or more difficult to overcome than others. What you ought look for with this question is a range of different challenges that they experience. Or, more importantly, how they work to overcome them. Their answer will either give you confidence in them – or raise doubts in your mind.
5. Tell me about some of your proudest achievements as a DES consultant
This request should lead to a consultant telling you about some fantastic success stories they’ve had with securing successful work placements for previous participants. You would hope to see passion, excitement and pleasure in their manner as they tell the stories. This is a good indicator for the passion the consultant has for his or her work – and therefore what you might expect from them as your consultant.
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