In relation to the environment and the allocation of available resources a balance also needs to be struck between the interests of different generations. A good example and major challenge for many developed economies with ageing populations is the growing number of people with long-term conditions and the frail elderly. They can account for two-thirds or more of healthcare costs.
If the ability of people with long-term conditions to self-care at home could be increased, it would reduce pressure upon healthcare resources and the need for tiring journeys. A three month feasibility study examined a performance support tool designed to help people with psoriasis to understand their condition, manage it on a day-to-day basis and develop a personalised action plan (Coulson-Thomas, 2012b). For more information visit gnet.org/psoriasis-our-guide-to-managing-your-condition/
Although many of the users were not as computer literate as adopters in other fields, and already had some appreciation of their condition, an impact assessment by Bournemouth University found a significant increase in the index used to measure ability to self care among users. About a half of them reported that the understanding and support provided had made a difference to how they managed their condition.
Pathway support can help a citizen to understand whom to contact and at what points in a public service process. It should provide the local information required and could include diagnostics to help users to better understand relevant needs, issues and options. Ideally, relevant elements of what has been captured should be made available to those later in the process, for example to enable ‘joined up’ responses. Again better help can prevent unnecessary journeys and improve outcomes.
Ensuring effective use of physical resources Environment management can also embrace
limiting wastage and over-exploitation. Sustainability requires the effective use of assets to prevent unnecessary output and reduce the utilisation of scarce resources. Consider the production of computer equipment which consumes rare minerals. Sometimes, software can provide a solution to a hardware problem. Cisco Systems’ storage networking makes better use of unused capacity on existing storage devices, thus reducing the need to buy new ones.
Developing such a solution creates a potential for reducing environmental impact, but this will not be realised unless people understand it and are prepared to use it. Cisco employed a performance support tool to help people appreciate the advantages of storage networking. Before its introduction many sales teams and channel partners felt they did not know enough about storage networking to recommend it.
Using devices such as simple graphics enabled people to quickly grasp the essence of storage networking and in some parts of the world first orders quickly followed the introduction of a sales support tool. The direction had been issued for some time, but people had lacked the practical performance support required for its implementation.
Performance support can also be used across a supply chain to speed up the implementation of environment management and other policies. Consider the question of sourcing and the behaviour of one’s suppliers whose conduct could have a significant impact on the environment. The retail store chain B&Q used performance support to make sure all its suppliers understood and adhered to its quality policies.