Living the SOLAS Vision read more
Supported Options in Lifestyle and Access Services (SOLAS) is a Townsville-based organisation that assists people with a psychiatric disability to live an independent and quality life in the community.
Collaboration is a major feature of SOLAS's operations. The board has been proactive in this regard, initiating partnerships with government agencies and other NGOs to continuously improve services. One of the most successful of these has been a partnership between SOLAS, Townsville Integrated Mental Health Services and Disability Services Queensland to meet the short-term support needs of clients.
The board has also established a range of consultative and inclusive processes to ensure all stakeholders - clients, families, carers and staff - can participate in decision making about services. SOLAS's system of Individual Service Support Plans for clients with regular review meetings of stakeholders is a best-practice model in the sector.
Another innovation is the annual Consumer Achievement Awards. Held as part of the annual general meeting, these awards celebrate the efforts of individual clients. This event exemplifies the board's direct involvement with clients and its interest in their wellbeing.
SOLAS - focusing on what it has been established to do, and doing it better
Effective Board Of Management read more
NOMINATION TO THE 2006 MINISTER'S AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. CATEGORY: EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY SERVICES - EFFECTIVE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT
SUPPORTED OPTIONS IN LIFESTYLE AND ACCESS SERVICES INC. (SOLAS)
SOLAS is an innovative and resourceful organisation that is managed by a long serving, passionate group of volunteer Board members who are committed to the ideal of improving the lives of people with a long term psychiatric disability. SOLAS was formed in 1995 as a pilot program for Queensland to develop and test a community based service model for people with psychiatric disability. Through the vision and leadership of the SOLAS Board of Management, the organisation has become a highly regarded and reputable specialised mental health service and has developed a high level of skills and expertise in service delivery, thereby continuing to be a leader in the field.
The SOLAS Board of Management consists of representatives from a range of community sectors. These include:- Consumer Representative; Indigenous Representatives; Mental Health Practitioners; Community Representatives and other interested members. The outstanding achievement of this group of dedicated and skilled people is their long term commitment to the organisation. Current members have served on the Committee for lengthy periods of up to 11 years, with one member having joined the group as an initial Steering Committee member. Our current President is now serving in this position for his 6th consecutive term and has been a member of the Board of Management since 1999.
The long term stability of the Board of Management as a governing group has ensured the continuity of the ethos and direction of the organisation over time. The organisation's primary goals of supporting people with a psychiatric disability to live an independent and quality life in the community has remained as the organisation's core philosophy since its inception in 1995. The organisation remains focused on what it has been established to do and to do it better. Expansion and development has only occurred with the primary function in mind, despite temptation and enticement to diversify for the sake of expansion. During 1998/1999 a new service was developed and trialled through a partnership with the Townsville Integrated Mental Health Services and Disability Services Queensland (DSQ) to meet an identified need in the community. The SOLAS Short Term Community Support Service received recurrent funding from DSQ in early 2004, thereby enabling the organisation to meet the short term support needs of consumers with a psychiatric disability. This innovative program has been evaluated and reviewed and results show outstanding positive outcomes for participants.
The Board of Management is clear about their role and their management style reflects sound and accountable governance that focuses on financial accountability requirements and the development and implementation of operational policies and procedures that ensure that the needs of consumers are paramount and that positive goals and achievements are continuously highlighted and celebrated. This is achieved through a commitment to consultative and inclusive processes to ensure that all stakeholders including consumers, family members, carers, staff members and organisational members are informed and are provided with opportunities to contribute to all aspects of service delivery and decision making processes. For example, the implementation of Individual Service Support Plans (ISSPs) with regular 3 monthly review meetings involving all stakeholders, consumers, family members and other organisations is an example of best practice in the sector. Other consultative processes include forums and meetings, newsletters, questionnaires and feedback forms.
This ethos has created an organisational culture that reflects stability and inclusiveness. Staff members remain committed to the organisational values and staff retention rates remain high. For example the Manager of the service has been employed for 10 years, with other staff members serving for similar lengthy periods. As the organisation has grown, the Board of Management has focused on the development of a sound structure and infrastructure within the organisation to ensure that staff members are adequately and appropriately managed and supported in their roles. Staff members are valued and the following strategies have been developed to increase staff retention rates:- professional development program; on-going supervision and support; monthly staff meetings; staff training opportunities; full-time employment whenever possible; above-award wages through the use of salary sacrificing options; innovative use of resources to support staff initiatives.
The Board of Management of SOLAS has been working in a collaborative way with other NGOs and Government Departments for some years and this is a recognised best practice of the organisation. They have developed and signed formal partnership agreements with other services since 2003. This collaborative approach has proven to produce positive outcomes and improve service delivery to consumers. This approach has been recognised and is being expanded through 2 grants from the Department of Communities - the first to document best practice principles and processes through the Collaborative Practices Project and the second through the Building Links Project which will focus on the development of formal arrangements and agreements between SOLAS and the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland (MIFNQ). SOLAS and the MIFNQ are jointly investigating the possibility of co-location into combined premises in order to establish the largest specialised mental health centre for consumers and carers in the North Queensland region.
The most outstanding strategy implemented by the SOLAS Board of Management has been the introduction of Consumer Achievement Awards as the major focus of the SOLAS Annual General Meeting. This concept was introduced in 2001 and has become a highly valued and important event each year, as each consumer who participates anticipates the evening with much enthusiasm and joy. Each year the number of consumers who wish to contribute to this event has grown, as has their sense of achievement, self-respect and confidence. They are able to contribute their views and ideas to the process of the management of the organisation and each person is highly valued for their unique gifts and contributions. A sample of presentations and displays from the 1995 SOLAS Annual General Meeting are attached.
SOLAS has a commitment to quality services and specialised innovation and initiatives to ensure that people with psychiatric disability are involved in all aspects of the services they receive and are able to live a meaningful life in the community with the support of a range of services that will assist them to meet this goal.