We are approaching the end of the focus groups with workers and service users. And what a fascinating process it is!
The groups are discussing our findings in phase one of the Connecting People study. We are finding out if our observations resonate with both practitioners and the people they work with. So far, they seem to.
Yesterday we had our second and final group with some people who use mental health services. We discussed where they usually connected with other people – nightclubs, at work, on facebook, on the street, for example – but mental health services did not feature in the initial discussion. This contrasted with the first focus group, where the participants discussed the value of peer support and user-led activities. What was in common, though, was that health and social care workers played only a background role in supporting people to connect with one another.
We are looking forward to the final focus group of this phase of the study with workers in Manchester on Monday. We are anticipating that they will talk about a more active role in this process for workers. However, the focus groups have thrown up a question for us. As the aim of the study is to understand how health and social care workers help people who have experienced a period of psychosis to connect with other people – with a view to developing a standardised intervention to develop evidence-based practice in this field – how can we understand the role of workers if it is very much in the background? If the workers’ role is supportive in the process, how much can be attributed to their contribution and how much to the readiness and ability of the individuals themselves to connect with others? It may not be possible to answer this. But it reminds us of the importance of practitioners working in synergy with those who use services to work towards common goals.
Roll on Monday…