Last week we worked with a core team of staff from the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) to look at improving access to the service. The team were incredibly student focused but acknowledged that external legislative changes and increasing student numbers was putting pressure on the service. Equally the team acknowledged that lack of appropriate standardisation was causing them anxiety about workload issues. The team has received excellent feedback about its service, so the drivers of the project were self identified (not enforced).
The team came up with many changes and improvements that will be implemented for the start of term. These include:
· Improvements to support for students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SpLD)- ensuring that where possible exam arrangements for semester one are in place pre-arrival for students who are still waiting for evidence for their Disability Support Allowance (DSA)
· Agreements about the best ways for students to access the service (phone and in person) yet still keeping email as an option for students who because of their disability need to use email.
· Changes to the reception so that the admin team are better placed to deal with in person, phone and email requests
· Standardisation and improvements to the way that the internal computer system will be used
· Further improvements of service for applicants and better joined up communications
· Creation of a Service Improvement Toolkit and identification of a small group that has authority to use it
One of the biggest challenges was around trying to standardise and prioritise work that happens as a result of students accessing DDSS (by far the majority of the advisers workload). Feedback from the team was that I pushed too hard and delivered the message in a way that was not constructive. It is the first time that I have received this message and will continue to reflect on this. It is always a challenge during intensive improvements events to get the team to make the most of the time by getting decisions made rather than delaying action (because this becomes more work for the team themselves) and difficult messages often have to be given (it’s part of my role), equally the lean facilitators role is one of ensuring that the team sticks to scope and focuses on all agreed deliverables of a project. I may feel I’ve ticked the boxes on my “job description” but when a team feeds back that this was done in an unhelpful way I need to ensure that I use lean principles to continuously improve my practice too.
I was pleased to hear the team feedback that they had worked together in an incredibly constructive way, which they don’t always get the opportunity to do. The team has a lot of actions (60+) to complete over the next few months and I was really pleased that they have authority from the project sponsor to carve out time to ensure that the improvement ideas are acted on.