Across the country Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) agencies are engaged in determining the needs of people with physical, cognitive, sensory or intellectual disabilities. Once their needs are identified, disability support services, funded by the Ministry of Health, can be tailored to meet each person's goals. These needs assessments are usually carried out by a service coordinator, but in the Bay of Plenty a supported self-assessment tool has been developed, called Understanding You and Your Situation (UYYS). Using a supported self-assessment process is thought to empower people with disabilities to be more in control of their lives.
Providing support needs to be done in a way that empowers those receiving support.
Mark Esteves, one of these service coordinators with the Wellington NASC, investigated supported self-assessment for his Master of Occupational Therapy. His research supervisor was Professor Mary Butler. Mark interviewed six service coordinators about their experience with using UYYS. Self-assessment makes the client the driver of the process, rather than the coordinator, with the focus on what the client wants to say and achieve. There is still a role for the coordinator to provide support by making sure the person is comfortable with the outcome of the assessment and check with him/her that the information is correct and appropriate.
One key learning was the importance of face-to-face assessment for some clients. Mark recommends giving more choice to the client, with both traditional assessment and supported self-assessment options available. Some clients will not be comfortable doing a self-assessment in their own time, some like to have an assessor available face-to-face, and others will prefer the assessor to complete the assessment. To achieve this it is important that service coordinators should adopt a rights-based approach that enables their clients.