Dealing with Service Providers – Fact Sheet
Dealing with service providers and getting exactly what you need can be tricky at times.
Here are a few steps you can follow when dealing with your service provider.
Before contacting your service provider
Write down what you want to achieve by this visit or contact. What is it exactly that you require from the service provider?
Think about what type of information service providers will enquire about and prepare clear and succinct answers. Have all documentation ready in case you need to refer to them.
In most cases your first contact will be through the administrative officer. Explain what you need clearly so they can direct you to a person who can help you.
Once you have reached the person who will respond to your request make sure to write down their name, their number and the organisation they are employed by in case you need to contact them in the future.
Prepare a list of questions beforehand. This will help you to remember what to ask about. (e.g. service availability, fee structure, future meetings).
Working with a service provider
Be honest. Share your concerns. Let your service provider know what you are concerned about from the outset. This will give them the opportunity to address these concerns and explain the reasons behind their decisions.
Share information that may be helpful to the service provider. This includes information about your family or your personal situation that may be relevant.
Ask if you don’t understand something. Sometimes service providers use jargon that you may be unfamiliar with. Repeating the information back to the service provider can also help to confirm that you have understood things correctly.
Prioritise. Be clear on what you want. It is important to differentiate between those things that are essential and those that are less important. This will assist you when negotiating with service providers.
Be respectful even when disagreeing. You can be assertive without being aggressive and you will probably achieve a better outcome. Explain why you believe something won’t work if this is the case.
Be persistent. Remember that you and the service provider are working in partnership for the benefit of the care recipient.
Be positive. If the service provider has done something good or helpful, let them know. Be prepared to work with your service provider.
If negotiating over the phone or dealing with support workers always know the name & position of the person you are speaking to and who they work for so you can follow up if needed. This is also really helpful for times when you may need to cancel a service.
Keep notes and have your documents in order
This helps you to have accurate information for yourself or to share with family members and other service providers.
Discuss your own needs so they are taken into account in decision-making. This will also help the service provider to adapt their planning, advice and support accordingly.
Make a time for the next meeting or contact.
If your contact leaves the Service
Most services will give new workers background information.
However, this is a chance for you to educate the new person about the situation and what you feel is important. A new professional can bring a fresh approach.
If you are unhappy
Stay calm and remain focused so that you can explain what you need clearly.
If you have an issue, make a special appointment to address your concerns. Service providers may deal with many clients. By making a special appointment the service provider will have the time to address the issue properly.
Bring someone along to help if you feel you need some moral support. Let the service provider know of your intention in advance.
Avoid criticising professionals or services – frame your concerns in terms of what you or your care recipient need. Be tactful and constructive and stick to the issue at hand.
Speak directly to the professional involved first. Give them the opportunity to address the issue. A problem may be resolved by communicating the issue in the first place.
If they do not address your concerns make an appointment to speak to the supervisor. Most services have policy or procedures in place to deal with issues. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with these. Know your rights and responsibilities.
Ask for important decisions/ information to be formally noted in writing for you.
Whenever possible try to establish a friendly relationship with the service provider – someone you can speak to directly. By establishing a friendly and relaxed relationship with the service provider you will achieve great results.
Want more information?
If you are looking for something more local, check out our Regional Offices and Support Groups.
While all care has been taken to ensure information is accurate, it is intended as a guide only – please check our Disclaimer Page for more information.