In a previous blog I suggested that post placement support (PPS) is both art and science.
Some of our clients, because of the nature of their disability, require our assistance to continue past the start of their employment. Some workers may require a level of help for their entire working life.
PPS varies in the way in which it can be delivered and the range and type of help is as varied as the people that receive support.
PPS is tailored to the individual needs of the worker and should be adjusted to ensure it meets current need.
1. Mary has issues with her mental health, she sometimes appreciates a coffee break with her employment consultant as a means of helping her stay grounded. Her employment consultant gives her a phone call at the start of every working week just to check in and see how she’s coping. Mary has been employed for almost a year, the longest period of work in her adult life.
2. Steven has Down’s syndrome. He has been working in a factory for almost a month and his employment consultant starts work with him on each of the days he works. Together they are building Steve’s stamina and helping him develop a routine that he can remember and that will allow Steve to eventually become more autonomous in his work
Steve works 20 hours a week and in his first 4 weeks of employment his employment consultant has been on-site with him for more than 90% of the time. Based on their experience with other workers his employment consultant feels Steve will eventually only need to see him for a couple of hours each week.
3. Bob has an intellectual disability and has been working full time for 2 years. A couple of times each week (generally on a Monday and Wednesday morning) Bob’s employment consultant comes out to the workplace and checks in with Bob and Bob’s employer Rick. They often talk about how much Bob has improved in his attention to detail and in following the routine that they established for him
That said, Bob still needs reminders to stay on task and keep to time and Rick understands Bob’s employment consultant is a vital part of the team.
Depending on the level of disability suitable skilled disability employment service staff may be required to spend significant time at a workers new place of employment. Their role can include creating the social structures necessary to become part of the team and remain employed, demonstrating appropriate, supporting the new employers training programs and staff induction. Helping co-workers to understand the impact of disability and how to get the best from their new team member. Modelling safe work practices and so on.
Post Placement Support should be designed to ensure that the transition from unemployed person to valued member of the team is as smooth as possible. A change of role may see the reintroduction of more intensive support:
David has been working at a local supermarket for several years and his PPS consists of an occasional drop-in. However, his employer has contacted the disability employment service as they plan a significant renovation and will be moving all their stock around.
Since David’s reading and writing skills are very poor he relies on memory to find store items (customers really appreciate his unfailing ability to find what they are looking for as David has memorised the position of every stock item). The last time there was a change David became very distressed and his managers knows that effective post placement help can reduce the stress David feels – together, David his manager and employment consultant work out a 4 week plan to re-orient David to the new layout.
So post placement support CAN be a phone call but is generally much more and frequently includes very significant on-site commitment.
The provision of PPS is vital to keep people with significant disability in work. This effort was clearly foreseen by the writers of the Disability Services Act and was until recently something that Disability Employment Services automatically factored into their service delivery.
That’s changed. I know this is a fact because other service provider staff tell me that ‘they don’t do PPS’ or program staff ring my teams to see if we’ll do it for them!
Why the exclamation mark?
Because as has been repeatedly demonstrated the best model of service deliver sees the same person work with the individual who has a disability from their registration to their eventual vocational independence. To be effective at PPS you need to truly have an understanding of the person you are working with and that only comes with time.
You don’t play ‘pass the parcel’ if you are working with people that have significant support needs and these are the very people disability employment services were created for.
It’s also a great shame that the present model for evaluating service delivery seems to actively discriminate against the provision of on-going support (a lot more on this soon)
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