For many years people have called for government and non-government organisations, services, and policies to be person-centred; truly centred on the people who are impacted or for whom policies and services are developed or provided. There has also been an increased interest from all levels of government and service organisations in exploring co-design as a methodology. The ‘HOME: Lived Experience Co-Design and Engagement Toolkit’ (the toolkit) is the response to the call for co-designing and engaging with people who have lived experience, embedding their voice across Government, sectors such as housing and homelessness, and broader system processes.
There is no way to solve complex issues that deeply impact people, such as homelessness, without genuinely listening to and co-designing solutions with those people who have the lived experience of that issue. Nothing about us, without us.” – HOME Lived Experience Advocate
This toolkit, designed for agencies that provide housing and homelessness services, comprises of the voice of lived experience, evidence-based research, analysis, and practical recommendations of lived experience co-design and engagement. It features the guiding principles of empathy and equality, with interconnecting values, approaches, actions, processes, and resources to support organisations better harness the voices of people with lived experience to improve policies, services, and programs. If followed, this toolkit will support organisations in gaining more credibility in their actions and outcomes by including unique expertise from people with lived experience.
Shelter WA and the HOME lived experience advocates (HOME Project participants) have developed this toolkit as a guide to encourage adopting a shared vision based on the principles of empathy and substantive equality to enable people with lived experience, the community, and organisations to work together as equal partners in solving complex issues such as housing insecurity and homelessness. At a more practical level, the tool-kit is designed to enable service providers to work in partnership with people with lived experience to ensure that their organisation is founded on a person-centred approach.
This toolkit showcases how to adopt a best practice approach to lived experience involvement across policies, projects, services, and programs.
The tools within this kit are a guide to embedding lived expertise into workplace culture, communication, and activities, as the kit ultimately recognises and addresses:
- The role that lived experience involvement has in positively contributing to the cultural, social, economic, and political environments that create a fair and effective housing system that meets the needs of people (or the system being addressed).
- Working in partnership with people who have lived experience is fundamental to a human-rights approach in delivering policy, services, and programs that delivers positive outcomes for people.
- The need for lived experience advocates to be enabled and empowered to contribute in a meaningful way through the provision of relevant training and development opportunities so they can sit around the table with the confidence, skills, and ability to engage in a meaningful and impactful way.
- The commitment to amplifying and elevating the voice of lived experience advocates to speak for themselves and be heard.
- Committing to co-design activities with people who will be impacted, or for whom policies, programs and services are being designed, from inception to ensure programs both meet the needs of and empower service users.
- The intellectual contribution made by lived experience advocates as consultants and the appropriate remuneration and reimbursement payable to lived experience advocates based on their advocacy skills and experience.
Why involve lived experience advocates and co-design a policy, service, idea?
Because it enables organisations to deliver programs and services that meet the needs of service users. This approach identifies problems and workable solutions increases knowledge of service user’s needs, and provides access to diverse experiences, skills, and perspectives. It provides an opportunity for organisations to harness the strengths and insights of people with lived experience, to work collaboratively to deliver genuinely positive change for our practices, policies, systems, and community.
But what does it take to genuinely involve lived experience advocates and co-design a policy, service, idea? It means bringing together people who have lived experience of service systems or are service users and treating them as valued and equal partners. It requires us to value one another’s opinions, views, and expertise. It means everyone can recognise their input in the completed outcomes.
Organisations have a critical role to play in setting this culture.
To achieve this, organisations must embrace the participation, advice, and leadership of people with lived experience in the design, development, delivery, monitoring, research, evaluation, and continuous improvement of activities. This will lead to better outcomes for people for whom activities are developed. It will lead to better outcomes for organisations as those policies, services and so forth will better meet the needs of users.
The toolkit includes a number of case studies and real examples to showcase similar stories of people with lived experience who overcame their experience of housing insecurity or homelessness to become significant contributors with organisations in community and sector policy, services, and programs – creating positive system change together. These case studies also showcase how organisations can involve people with lived experience to create more effective and credible outcomes as an organisation. In Part 6 of this toolkit, there are a variety of other guides and toolkits as further support, as well as further examples of current and previous lived experience co-design and engagements with people who have lived experience as an additional guide.