About the Client Engagement Toolkit

Clients have an important role in the planning, delivery, and evaluation of aged care services, as well as in the direction and evaluation of their own care. Client engagement is about how we communicate and interact with clients, and how we involve them in decisions and planning. It is important that organisations support innovation and the development of new ideas about the way they engage and encourage all their staff to be proactive in seeking new ways to connect with clients.

The Client Engagement Toolkit is a comprehensive resource for aged care services to help care organisations and their staff improve engagement practice. It was developed as part of a large research project involving two Australian aged care service providers. The project was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

This set of tools is designed to guide you through the process of thinking about what client engagement looks like for you, what is working well, and what needs to be improved. The tools will help you to plan a project to make these improvements, and then implement and evaluate your project. Using these tools will help you to plan and implement actions to address issues in your service, but will also help you to document what you are doing to address these problems.

Designing and implementing projects like this can be daunting, especially if you haven’t tried it before. These tools are designed to walk you through the process, and to make it simpler. The Toolkit can be used by staff in any role in aged care organisations, or by groups of staff working in residential, community, or retirement living services.

How To Use The Toolkit

There are several parts to the toolkit. You can use the tools together in order, or take just one on its own to help you with your thinking about a project. You can use the tools on your own or in a group. You may like to gather a team of people who share the same concerns and want to address the issues with you.

The Organisational Resources contain two tools:

The template Client Engagement Framework is designed to help care organisations develop a Client Engagement Framework and Strategy.  The template steps you through the process of mapping current engagement practice, identifying gaps and desired changes, and choosing the level of engagement you would like to use for different purposes. The help with this process, the Client Engagement Mapping Tool is designed to help you to identify what client engagement activity is already happening across the organisation. Once you have completed your map, you may be able to see some gaps in your current engagement, or activities you would like to include in future.

The Staff Resources contain three tools:

Tool 1 – Need for Action is designed to help you to think in more detail about how you and other staff engage with clients, and any issues you can see that need to be addressed. This can be a useful tool to use in staff meetings to talk through issues people are seeing across the service. When you have identified something that you think needs to change, you can use Tool 2 – Action Planner to help you work out how to achieve it. Once you have your project underway, you can use Tool 3 – Monitoring and Evaluation to help you think through how it is going, what you have achieved, and whether you need to change something. You should use Tool 3 throughout your project to help you reflect and evaluate along the way.

There are two additional resources that help with completing the tools – these form a Guide to Engagement Methods.  The What Engagement Methods Could I Use? tool is designed to give you some ideas about different ways that you can engage with clients and external stakeholders. Many of these may be ideas you have not come across before. To find out more about each suggested approach, you can look it up in the Which Engagement Method Should I Use? tool.

If you prefer to complete the tools by hand, you can download a version to print here.

For more information, to make comments or suggestions, or to let us know how you’re using the Toolkit, please contact Dr Andrea Petriwskyj on a.petriwskyj@uq.edu.au.