Case study: Shared workforce models

shared workforce model

How collaboration can help NDIS service providers to remodel after-hours on-call care support

In South Australia, three medium-sized disability service providers, Community Living Australia, Lutheran Disability Services and Lighthouse Disability, have come together to develop a shared workforce model for after-hours on call support. They successfully reduced costs, increased staff and participant satisfaction, and improved compliance and risk management.

The after-hours care challenge
The three providers all had challenges in coordinating responses to after-hours calls from participants accessing services and support workers seeking guidance. Previously, these duties were carried out by team leaders on a roster system.

However, being on call added to team leaders’ workloads, raised stress levels and impaired work life balance. The result was that good workers left and it was difficult to attract new workers.

Teaming up
The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) worked with the providers to co-design a shared-service model.

The three organisations compared core policies, processes and approaches, and addressed differences.

They developed an agreed service blueprint, processes and tools, which were tested and changed based on scenario testing and role playing. Two new workers were employed to share the on-call worker role, guiding the support workers in all three organisations.

Key features of the shared workforce model

  • Dedicated support team – for both passive and active after-hours support
  • Quality assurance – agreed minimum staff qualifications and service criteria
  • Integration with processes – staff trained to follow current organisation processes
  • Modified induction – dedicated support team had an adapted induction to ensure understanding policy, procedures and systems, client management and rostering systems, and service-specific details
  • Integration with technology – shared out of hours coordinators trained to use rostering and client management systems for all three collaborating organisations
  • Code of conduct – to assist staff and after-hours call support interactions.

The shared services model delivered several benefits including:

  • More effective services and lower service delivery costs
  • Happier, healthier staff
  • Improved client satisfaction
  • Better risk and compliance through shared learning and better reporting
  • Increased brand reputation.

Providers also learned better practices from each other and are now proposing to extend the model to other roles. Additional shared services that could offer further value include a shared pool of support workers, education and training, human resources, compliance management, procurement, accounting and technology services.

Lessons learned

  • It can be a big mindset shift for organisations who may have been competitors to collaborate towards a common goal. As such, it is important for the design process that a high level of trust is established between the organisations so that they feel comfortable to openly and honestly discuss their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps to address any differences in a non-confrontational way.
  • A good co-design process involves staff at different levels to help as the service model is being developed. This means potential tensions are identified sooner and the shared model more closely meets the workers’ needs.
  • A rigorous design process should involve all collaborating partners testing the model many times before it goes live.
  • Implementing and expanding a shared workforce model takes time. It should be implemented in a controlled way to minimise risks.

Future opportunities
Given the first iteration of this workforce model, the organisations are exploring the option to extend the sharing arrangement to other parts of the workforce. Other disability service providers have also seen value in this workforce model and some are determining what an operating model could look like for a co-operative and how it could work efficiently and effectively.

If you would like to join this ongoing process, contact Community Living Australia.

Support resources
The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) has developed a video and summary report to provide an overview of the model, its design and the evaluation approach.