Heather’s story: Getting better together

Heather says the Getting Better Together surveys are not only a way to track how her recovery work is going, but doing them actually contributes to the recovery process.

Heather moved from her family’s home into Haven Frankston when it first opened in February 2019. She was keen to live as independently as possible and Haven’s supported independent living model was an opportunity to do just that.

She is living with significant mental health issues and building skills to manage these was a key focus of her early work at Haven with her key support worker Isha. Heather has come a long way. She is now undertaking a PhD in Social Epidemiology and her My Better Life® plan is now focused on leaving Haven and living independently and setting up all the supports she’ll need to achieve that.

While her My Better Life® plan helps Heather and Isha to envision her goals and develop a plan to achieve them, her six-monthly Getting Better Together digital outcomes survey is an opportunity to assess her overall wellbeing and recovery progress.

“When a client completes an outcome measures survey, it means their feelings about a whole range of things are documented, reviewed and assessed – instead of just having a conversation that just happens and might go nowhere,” Heather’s key support worker Isha explains.

Heather says the survey has given her a fuller, more objective view of her recovery progress.

Heather completed her latest survey only last month so it is still fresh in her mind. “The surveys are good because they give me an objective picture of what’s going on,” she says. “If I am struggling, I can have a hard time acknowledging that to myself, but when it’s some questions in black and white that are asking me how I’m going, it somehow allows me to be a bit more vulnerable and to really think about how I’m going across all those different aspects of life.”

“It’s a really good record for the staff too,” Heather adds. “I can be really honest with Isha and open up, but I don’t necessarily have the same sort of relationship with everyone else, so it’s good that they can just read my survey and know where I’m at without me having to have a personal conversation with everyone.”

Heather says she also appreciates how the survey gives her the chance to have a voice about her level of satisfaction with things at the service, something that could be uncomfortable shared face-to-face.

“Questions 41-47 are about service satisfaction,” Isha explains. “How listened to does the client feel? Do they receive enough information? Do they feel safe? Heather’s responses highlighted some definite areas for improvement so, once I’d reviewed her survey, that gave us the basis for a really fruitful discussion about areas in which we could do better here at the service. That’s great for my accountability and duty of care.”

Heather says the survey has given her a fuller, more objective view of her recovery progress. “Doing it (the survey) has made me look at where I am at and helped me identify where I want to go. It has not only highlighted areas that need attention, it has also made me recognise areas that are going well that I hadn’t fully realised.”

“Having enrolled in her PhD and successfully published her first paper has given Heather a big sense of achievement,” Isha says. “She rated a question around how meaningful she considers her life to be extremely highly – and that’s a very important metric for anyone.”