Consumer Led Good Practice Project

This project identified characteristics of good practice in the delivery of consumer-led services across the ageing, disability and mental health sectors and developed a tool to assist service providers to assess their ongoing viability in the new market.


Reforms across disability, aged care and mental health are prompting many service providers to review their business operations and service delivery models. However, the principle of consumer choice and control can be challenging to translate into practice.

What were the project objectives?

The project sought to:

  • identify characteristics of good practice in the delivery of consumer-led services
  • support service providers to identify how they might embed consumer-led service delivery into their operations and ensure their businesses are viable and sustainable in the new market.

What did the project involve?

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) led this project. The project commenced in 2016 and concluded in 2018.

A literature review was conducted to identify elements of good practice in consumer-led service delivery in aged care, disability services and community mental health services. Consultations were also held with service provider staff, consumers and families.

The project identified four service providers that were found to demonstrate elements of promising practice in consumer-led care. Those organisations were Inclusion Melbourne and Milparinka (disability sector), ERHMA (mental health sector) and Kincare (aged care sector). All acknowledged they were still in the process of developing frameworks for person-centred service delivery.

The project also developed a ‘Going Concern Self-Assessment Tool’ to assist service providers to assess their ongoing viability in the new market.

What did we learn?

The project identified several characteristics of good practice in consumer-led service delivery. The characteristics related to organisational structure, culture, operational systems, service delivery models and workforce development strategies.

The project found that organisations can promote consumer-led service delivery by adopting approaches that support consumer choice and decision-making, promote community inclusion and consumer independence, build workforce capacity through reflective practice and uphold a commitment to continuous improvement:

  • be in the community – maintain a presence in community and work with community to promote inclusion
  • support choice and decision-making – recognise that choice-making is a skill and many consumers need support and assistance to do this
  • promote reflective practice – support workforce development and effective service delivery by emphasising and embedding reflective practice into the organisations’ operations and culture
  • build a culture of continuous improvement – recognise the ongoing nature of the transition and the need for adjustments and build flexibility into strategic and operational plans and practice models.

The four case studies were found to have demonstrated some common characteristics:

  • Commitment to values-based leadership
  • Reflective practice built into day-to-day work
  • Commitment to genuinely understand consumer needs, perspectives and aspirations
  • Acknowledgement that consumer independence in community is paramount.

The Going Concern Self-Assessment Tool identified internal and external factors that may influence organisations’ capacity to continue to operate in the new market and described the overall effect and quantum of impact of each factor.

 This project was funded by State Trustees Australia Foundation

Download the project summary PDF