International Day of People with Disability has been observed annually across the globe since 1992.
It places a focus on how society can remove barriers for people with disability and aims to increase community awareness, understanding and acceptance.
The day is of particular significance to the Multicap Practice Excellence Team, who each day work to better the lives of those living with disability.
They look specifically to the evidence base in disability and mental health to ensure best practice care is utilised.
Clinical Lead Susan Lackey said the team is steered by four pillars of research.
“The pillars are physical health, mental health, disability and rights and advocacy,” said Susan.
“From there we are guided by the needs of customers and staff that have been identified through forums. We are also guided by contemporary changes to policy. We are constantly looking to the population we support for their voice on what they need.”
As a result, conducting research internally forms a fundamental role in the work of the Practice Excellence Team.
According to Research Lead Trent Carberry, disability is a field where best practice is always changing.
“If we want to provide the best possible supports to our customers, we need to be able to keep up with where the industry is heading,” said Trent.
“This potentially means using our own research to drive that change. We don’t want to be guessing or making things up, we need to be able to back up our practice with proof.”
Self–advocacy for people with disability is another focus of the Practice Excellence Team.
They are responsible for Multicap’s self–advocacy network HAVEN, which aims to support customers and clients in advocating for themselves across different areas of life.
Practice Specialist for Rights and Advocacy Vicky Chen said self–advocacy is like a shield for people with disability.
“Knowing what they deserve as a member of the community allows individuals to protect themselves from being excluded, bullied or neglected,” said Vicky.
“HAVEN teaches people to speak up for themselves confidently and take control of their own lives.”
The success of HAVEN even saw Multicap named a finalist in the Excellence in Service Quality category of the 2023 National Disability Awards.
In addition to customers and clients, the work of the Practice Excellence Team is also valuable for those committed to supporting them.
They offer direct training to support workers, especially in cases where a customer has a complex physical health condition, and recently expanded to include a diabetes nurse educator.
In the mental health space, the team is working towards embedding trauma–informed care training into current staff training.
“We want to ensure people with mental health challenges feel safe in our care,” said Susan.
“We want to use supportive language, safe boundaries and have the tools to help them when they are feeling distressed.”
The work of the Practice Excellence Team is a driving force for Multicap remaining a leader in providing disability services.
“One of the advantages of being a larger provider is that we can build a team of professionals who focus on specific areas to ensure our customers are receiving the highest quality support possible,” said Trent.
“That gives us the chance to operate in a proactive way, thinking about how we can improve what we do without continually acting in a reactive way when problems appear.”
“We have a culture that is not content with leaving things the way they are because that’s how they’ve always been.”