Topic outline

  • Section 1: The client/worker relationship

    When meeting a client for the first time, you will need to work towards engaging them in conversation and discussion of their needs, expectations, goals and aspirations. They may have difficulty engaging due to low self-esteem or feelings of being overwhelmed.

    When you work with clients in a community and disability service organisation, it is vitally important to realise that the clients are much more than their presenting problems/issues and much more than the personality standing or sitting in front of you.

    This section looks at two elements in which community and disability workers need to develop competency as service providers. They are as follows:

    1. Establishing interpersonal relationships with clients that will enable all issues to be dealt with.
    2. Evaluating the clients' range of issues and the delivery of appropriate services.

    To establish an interpersonal relationship with clients that will enable all issues to be dealt with, you need to:

    • have facilitative communication skills to assist clients to identify areas of concern, to prioritise areas for immediate and long-term action and to determine options for action and workable strategies to address their priority areas
    • be able to define boundaries and use communication skills that will establish trusting and respectful relationships
    • assist clients to develop their own action plans to address their circumstances
    • share relevant information with clients about services available, options, and health and wellbeing issues to assist them in determining a course of action
    • work with clients to set personal goals and explore personal strategies and to identify a hierarchy of strategies; including contingency plans
    • work with clients to identify and plan for potential consequences of their decisions
    • implement procedures to ensure all services and responses to clients comply with duty of care and accepted standards of ethical behaviour.

  • Section 2: Determine the course of action to be followed

    Once an assessment of the information received by a client has been made, it is time for you and your client to collaboratively plan an appropriate intervention or action aimed at contributing to positive change to the client’s situation. Responding holistically to clients’ issues and tackling them from a number of different angles is now considered to be the best way to assist clients to deal with their own issues.

    The most important requirement in that process is to empower each client as much as possible to move towards making positive independent choices regarding their situation. Of course, if the court becomes involved, some of the choices may be taken away.

    This section looks at determining the course of action to be followed, including:

    • ways of assessing the level of risk to the client and others directly involved
    • following organisational procedures, legal requirements and duty of care obligation in responding to indicators of risk of abuse, neglect or harm including indicators for children and young people
    • ways of determining options for referrals to other service providers against the range of client needs
    • referring a client appropriately, following organisational protocols, policies and procedures
    • applying accepted procedures to evaluate the benefit to the client of referral to another service
    • evaluating the benefits of providing a brief intervention in helping a client access other services
    • applying accepted procedures to evaluate the option of bringing in specialist support and continuing to work with the client
    • providing the client with resources and information, appropriate to their situation and actions to be followed.
  • Section 3: Provide a brief intervention as required

    In Section 1 we identified ways to assess a client’s needs from the information received and in Section 2 how to determine the course of action to be followed, based on this information.

    Now we will look at the issues relating to assessing a client’s need for intervention and the type of brief intervention required to ensure that they are out of immediate crisis.

    This section looks at ways of providing a brief intervention as required, including:

    • assessing a client’s need for intervention and the type of brief intervention required
    • using brief intervention strategies that match the client’s stage of change
    • complying with cultural obligations that influence the use of brief intervention with particular clients
    • employing strategies to motivate, support and encourage the client
    • current needs and sources of assistance and giving support as appropriate.
  • Section 4: Responding to vulnerable and at risk people

    You will encounter many individuals who are in a state of crisis. When you begin to work with a client and their family in a crisis situation it may become apparent to you very quickly that, in addition to the presenting crisis situation, the client involved may be a person who is particularly vulnerable and therefore at significant risk.

    This section looks at responding appropriately to people who are vulnerable and at significant risk, including children and young people. It covers the following strategies for response:

    • applying appropriate information collection mechanisms and assessment tools to establish the degree of risk, neglect or harm
    • assessing the priority need for intervention
    • applying appropriate procedures to prevent escalation of any potential emergency or crisis
    • responding appropriately to emergencies and crises according to the organisation's procedures, in accordance with duty of care
    • following relevant State/Territory legislation, your organisation's policies and procedures and duty of care obligations in responding to indicators of actual or potential risk of abuse, neglect or harm.
  • Section 5: Evaluate effectiveness of client services provided

    When you are working with a client for any length of time, it is important to assess whether the services provided by your organisation (or any other agency to whom you have referred your client) have dealt with the client’s needs in an holistic sense. Use this checklist as a guide.

    • Have those services assisted the client to achieve the goals they initially sought?
    • Has the experience of receiving a service enhanced the client's self-esteem or has it made them more dependent?
    • Has the experience of receiving a service increased the knowledge and skills that the client can apply to other problems experienced in their life?
    • Have the support workers provided effective role models to enhance the client's interpersonal functioning, especially in times of stress?

    In exploring the effectiveness of these services, specific attention will be paid to the following areas:

    • how clients’ progress or outcomes are reviewed regularly in accordance with organisational procedures and in consultation with clients, carers, case managers and other service providers
    • how workers ensure clients’ file notes are complete, up-to-date and include the client’s stage of decision-making on each occasion
    • how workers and organisations apply reflective practice strategies to ensure feedback is sought and incorporated in service delivery.