Staff Memo 20-04-23


This letter has been sent out to all staff email addresses.  Because we have become aware that quite a few staff don’t bother to monitor their emails we are also sending it by hard copy mail.  This will ensure that we can refer to it, knowing that everyone has seen it.

NWSS is committed exclusively to the North-West Region. Our service currently stretches from Wynyard to Latrobe and as far inland as Sheffield.

There are 250 employees making it one of the larger employers in the area.

Many staff never get to see or hear about the scope of the service let alone know what is going on in other work locations.

Managerial and supervisory staff work from home-based offices across the region.

The opening page of our website carries direct phone numbers for the management team.

We are not sure how many of our staff have been keeping up with the Disability Royal Commission and the state of the aged care sector.  Very serious, widespread, neglect, abuse and poor-quality service provision has become evident and is proving hard to change.

NWSS see, within their operation, indications that quality is extremely vulnerable and can be lost quickly and easily if we don’t keep attending to it.

Why is this happening?

One obvious reason is the personnel structures we now have whereby staff, for the most part, work alone or in very small groups without direct supervision.  Management knows who is on shift but not a lot about who are doing what tasks, how tasks are being shared, the quality of the work, whether standards are being breached and reported or how staff are treating and supporting each other.

As a result of the poor-quality evidence, government regulators, in our case the NDIS, are putting increasing pressure on service providers to know, monitor and continually improve what is happening on a day-to-day basis for clients.  Regular government driven audits demand evidence of devices and improvements to remain registered.

One device of our making that you will now encounter is the Support Workers Shift Diary.  We will, periodically ask teams to keep shift diaries on the tasks they do and share in shifts.  These diaries will help convert support plans into shift tasks and manage the workforce for effectiveness and comfort for both clients and staff.

Anyone found to be providing incorrect information is in jeopardy of losing their job.  Within the last six months a person was dismissed for lying to a question about what happened on a shift.

Another device we now use is the Standards Reminder.  These are goodwill warnings but if they are ignored and stack up against an individual they escalate into a disciplinary process where dismissal can be considered.

One of the problems for a service this size and geographical spread is support workers not being able to see and learn from the consequences of ignoring standards reminders.  In the last six months, three support workers have lost their jobs because they didn’t take reminders seriously and enough evidence had been gathered to dismiss them.

However, this alert system is designed to generously warn and give people time to adjust and change.  Adjustment, not dismissal, is our aim.

One of our major concerns now are the poor communication reports between staff.  We are getting repeated reports of sexual harassment, general harassment, bullying, discrimination and unfriendly styles of communication.

While most of these don’t stand up to the reported level, they usually always start from inappropriate words, gestures, bad moods, or actions between staff.  They take up a lot of valuable time and resources to sort out.

We are living in an era of high anxiety for a variety of reasons, but we cannot let these be any excuse for other than civil behaviour towards each other in the workplace.  Words, mood, gestures, and actions must be:

·      Friendly
·      Respectful
·      Dignified
·      Non judgemental
·      Patient
·      Devoid of any harassment

When, after warnings have been issued about poor workplace behaviour, people who continue to ignore them will find that they build towards withdrawing hours of work and/or disciplinary action.

The most common Standards Reminder that we regularly send out is:

Regardless of workplace frustrations, at any level, communication must remain respectful, dignified, and civil.

The pressure is on all of us from the Board of Management through to support workers.

Managers, Service Coordinators, Roster Coordinators, Coordination Assistants are essential for keeping work flowing to support workers.  They are essential for protecting our jobs.  Please treat them with care.

The staff who hold the above positions must be an impeccable model of the best workplace behaviour to hold their positions.

The organisation has many fantastic workers that keep us proud so please take this as a goodwill gesture so that we all know what NWSS’ expectations are, employee responsibilities are and how to protect our positions by doing the right thing.

Neal Rodwell — General Manager — North West Support Services — 0418 140 000