Fast Track Workshop – 15th February 2013

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On Friday, February 15th 2013 (10am – 1pm) the Connecting People Team will be hosting a Fast Track Workshop at King’s College London. The event will act as an introduction to the Connecting People Intervention. There will be interactive training activities to engage in and a panel discussion with directors and workers from a range of agencies.

The event is free and will include a networking lunch.

Please see the event invitation here.  If you are interested in attending or would like more information please contact Meredith Newlin at  meredith.1.newlin@kcl.ac.uk.

Fast Track Workshop

Issue 1 – Connecting People Newsletter

An early Christmas present from the Connecting People Team to you…

Here is Issue 1 of the Connecting People Newsletter. This another way in which the Connecting People team will keep people updated on the work we are doing. It is hoped that this will help the team reach out to even more people and promote further interest in our work.

NewsletterPlease let us know what you think of the newsletter. Issue 2 will be produced in Spring 2013. If you have ideas for things you want to see in this get in touch.

The Connecting People Model in Action

The following case study is an example of the Connecting People Model in action within a Mental Health setting shown from the perspective of both the worker (Vish) and the individual (Greg).

Assessment team, mental health

Vish:

“When I first met Greg he was very nervous as he perceived our service to be the ‘judges’ of whether or not he could keep his Personal Budget.  It was important to make him feel at ease straight away by being friendly, having a bit of banter with him about the football (I’m a United fan and they’d just won against City), and above all being very open about the process.  I could tell he was a man who got confused by the paperwork (don’t we all!) so whereas with some clients I go through the forms bit by bit, with Greg we just spoke and I filled things in after our session.

I get a lot of clients through the door as the nature of our service means we see a lot of people once every few months, so I always keep a record for myself of what we spoke about, reflections on how the sessions go and such so that I can remind myself of it when our next meeting is due (with Greg it had made a note to check the football results before I saw him again). 

Our service is obviously trying to cut costs but we all try and look at this in a positive way – so the reason that someone’s Personal Budget is reduced is because they are more integrated with community activities and services that don’t require funding.  To make this work I have to have really strong knowledge of all of the available services out there – and constantly be looking for new ideas of where someone could go, where they could try out.  Here at our base we have a big table full of leaflets, fliers, and all sorts of information about different schemes in the area, which helps with inspiration if you are a bit stuck. 

With Greg it was relatively easy as he was keen to become more active so a gym referral was the obvious choice.  Then beyond that I remembered a local running club that I had heard good things about so after chatting with them about being supportive of Greg, put him in touch with them too.  Because I don’t see him very often we try and set clear goals each time that he can then manage with the help of other people. This last session, we decided that he should go for a commitment goal as Greg has had problems attending something regularly due to his depression.  We spoke with the gym and Greg decided to attend a regular kick-boxing class there, committing to attend every week.  Greg also wanted a tangible target, so I investigated and with the help of the running club found a 5km run that Greg is going to enter in three months time. 

Greg has good insight into his condition and knows that exercise and keeping busy helps stop his low mood, whereas sitting in the resource centre that he had been a member of full time does not help.  It is all about having these solid goals to keep him moving forwards in the direction that he wants to go.”

Greg:

“I was really not looking forward to meeting Vish because I had heard from friends in the mental health system that as soon as you stop getting a full time care coordinator, your support and your benefits start to stop too.  Vish was nice though, he had some similar interests to me and I didn’t feel as scared about what this meeting meant after a few minutes in the room with him.  He was really reassuring about it all and didn’t sit behind a desk with loads of official documents and stuff, it just felt like we were having a chat about what I liked to do and what I wanted to be doing in the future.  He reassured me that I wouldn’t have my Personal Budget stopped as long as I needed it, and that if it did happen it would be because I was doing other things that didn’t require one any more.  I had never thought of it that way before.

It was weird because even though I sort of knew that I wanted to do more exercise, Vish helped me work out what exactly I could be doing and put it into small bites of tasks.  I had been sitting in a mental health resource centre not really doing much up until recently when my Personal Budget was up for review, and I think that had maybe made things worse.  I had been quite worried about just going to the gym as I feel pretty unhealthy compared to how I used to be before I got ill, so when Vish told me that he knew the people at the gym, that he had referred other people over there before me, and that the staff there were really supportive I felt a lot better. 

He also told me about the local running club and put me in touch with them.  I’ve been going once a week to that since our session, and feeling a lot fitter.  Its really nice to go somewhere where the point of the activity is just to run – its not some medical thing where everyone talks about their illness and stuff.

After we spoke about the running club, we decided ‘no time like the present’ so spent the remainder of the time visiting the local gym and getting the induction form filled in.  I know that Vish only has a bit of time with me so it felt good that he could come and do that.  I am not seeing him again until our next session which is a few months, but the goals that we have set are keeping me busy – I have a 5km run quite soon which I am trying to get a PB in! He wants to know how I do in it so I will email him after it.

All in all, Vish has provided me with all the support he can, and has linked me in with people that can help me get back on track and that have the time to spend with me, and all doing activities that I am actually interested in.”

Maximising Research Impact

Martin, Hannah, and Meredith recently attended a Research Impact workshop, hosted by the Social Services Research Group (SSRG) to address the gap between research, policy and practice that exists in health and social care research.  The SSRG is a non-profit organisation which aims to provide a network and forum for research with members coming from a range of professional groups and organisations committed to advancing knowledge of social and health care services.

The Research Impact workshop focussed not only on the translation of research but also on the localisation of results into relevant contexts.  The day offered an opportunity to discuss some of the barriers to dissemination and implementation of research results such as language, length, and complexity of research reports.  Diversity in social care services was mentioned several times throughout the day as the field is challenged by many different stakeholders and a varied extent to which practice can be evidence-informed.  Solutions were discussed to engage practitioners with new media, research training opportunities for qualifying practitioners, and developing a formal network to connect with independent sector organisations.

Martin joined Chris Rainey (West Sussex CC and SSRG) and Deborah Rutter (SCIE) on a panel at the start of the day, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to network with other professionals in health and social care.   As a team we discussed ways that we can reach a wider audience with the results from the Connecting People Intervention Study.  Some of those include brochures to share our results from the systematic reviews, videos and packages of training materials, and of course continuing to promote the blog for frequent study updates.  We welcome your feedback on useful tools to disseminate our research findings, please feel free to leave comments below!

The wider reaches of the study…

To kick off our week of updates, David Morris talks a little about the ways in which the Connecting People research has an impact beyond just the study itself…

Connecting People is important not just for the outcomes of the study itself but for the ways in which the practices with which it works and the emerging messages from how to implement the model in practice are beginning to be felt elsewhere. We know that there are many teams who are not part of the study but whose members are very actively involved in creative approaches to supporting community connections for the individuals with whom they work. An important aspect of our study is generating wider reach; helping to illuminate this work in its richness and the ideas behind it.

At the same time, through our roles beyond the study, Connecting People is linking with other programmes like Connected Communities, a programme of work between UCLan and the RSA (together with LSE) and Inclusion Health, the national programme to address health inequalities and their social determinants in a number of particularly disadvantaged communities. We aim to continue building these links; to identify connections and to ensure that Connecting People reaches far beyond the areas in which we are currently working!

The context behind Connecting People

Professor David Morris is taking the lead for the UCLan half of the Connecting People Study, as it moves into the pilot study within agencies across England.  Here he tells us about his thoughts on the project as it is now, as well as putting the study into context within the policies that have guided its development.

Even at this early stage of Connecting People, we are clearly working with people and projects committed in their work to their users and to inclusion through participation. With our team, I am pleased to be working with organisations of very varying size and reach to see how their work can be shaped or underpinned by our intervention. Our intervention is not, however, set in stone; there is an extent to which it will itself be shaped by local experience and it is equally therefore a pleasure to be working with our sites reflectively – creating some time and space for collective conversation about what together might be achieved. It is already clear that this opportunity is equally valued by colleagues within the study sites for whom the day to day pressures of the work do not always allow for time to think and share as a team the experience of the work or their aspirations for it.

The process of our research is thus a co-productive one and in this we are likely to be reflecting the ways in which the intervention itself will be used locally. This seems to me to be really important. Services do not always work with their users to co-produce a way of meeting inclusion goals. Their work is often constrained by the imperative of quick outcome or confined to identifying individual goals and ambitions rather than enabling the realisation of these ambitions. Very often, these ambitions are simply about making a contribution as a citizen, offering personal assets – skills, experience, interest, enthusiasm – to a community (what I have heard described in some quarters as ‘Big Society’!). Since communities can of course be inhospitable places, these opportunities for community participation can be elusive unless (and perhaps even if) they are pursued through an approach to service delivery that incorporates both a ‘literacy’ about community assets and social networks and practical strategies for building the capacity of both.

The ideas that we are advancing here are rooted most recently in the social inclusion policy of the last government (but still largely relevant to the current one) that was set out in the series of reports from the cross-government Social Exclusion Unit. The five year National Social Inclusion programme (NSIP) was established in 2004 to oversee implementation that report which set out the evidence for exclusion in mental health and with it, some 27 sets of actions to address exclusion; to promote in policy and practice the rights of people with mental health problems to equity in relation to employment and, as importantly, community participation.

It was always clear that achieving change in relation to community participation would require a shift in the relationship of services to communities, harnessing the tasks of care, support and recovery to a more collaborative, constructive and engaging contract with communities themselves. While we saw in the National Service Framework the emergence of multiple forms of community mental health team, little attention had or has been given to how they – or any other part of the service system – would draw on and build up the social value of communities and their connectedness as an essential contribution to the service process. As a programme, we wanted to redress this imbalance, linking up with mainstream agencies to shape an agenda for connected communities in mental health. This was a commitment that migrated with me at the end of NSIP to the Inclusion Institute and it has been realised in a number of ways. For example, with the Royal Society for Arts and London School of Economics we established, with Big Lottery funding, the five year Connected Communities programme which is working on social network interventions in seven sites and elsewhere is provoking interest from many quarters nationally and internationally.

This then is the context in which ‘Connecting People’ sits. It is one that in turn will be enriched by the study and I hope in being part of the study, participants in it will feel part of that broader context. I would certainly want to promote that. People’s imagination and good work in this field need more than ever to be celebrated as a source of learning for others and we welcome your views about how, beyond the study, we can together best support that aim. In the meantime, despite the shocking impact of austerity to date and to come – and indeed, in part, because of it, there are significant opportunities to reveal innovation and to grow it appreciatively. This is what Connecting People is about. I look forward to our work together. Thank you for being part of it.

David Morris

Delphi Consultation now underway!

Hi all,

We are currently mid-way through the first stage of our consultation process, where we are asking individuals from lots of different backgrounds and areas of expertise to comment on the Practice Guidance for the Connecting People intervention.  This is a manual that will help workers to use the intervention effectively with the individuals who they work with.

We would like as many opinions as possible within this consultation process. If you would like to get involved, please click on the ‘Delphi Consultation’ link at the top of the header of this website.  Here you will find lots more information and links to the documents that we are using for the consultation process.

Thanks!

Connecting the theory with the practice

Up to this point, our research has been focussed on gathering evidence from extensive fieldwork to form the base of our intervention.  We have travelled to projects all over the UK and consulted with a wide range of people engaging with different services including workers, volunteers, linked organisations, individuals accessing services, and funders.  This has aimed to ensure that the model is grounded in practical examples, and accurately reflects the processes that occur when a worker and a service user work together to increase the individual’s social capital.  Have a look  to understand in more detail the different components of the model.

Whilst we are still conducting fieldwork within several agencies, we are starting now to draw on our model to form the basis of a user-friendly, comprehensive guide of how to utilise the intervention.  We understand that whilst it is all well and good to have produced the model in the diagrammatical form you see in here, or if you prefer a more detailed explanation of the components on Martin Webber’s blog here, the professionals using it to guide their practice will need a more complete and practical set of materials to work from.

To do this, we are taking information from the fieldwork and using it to ‘flesh out’ the model – providing real-life examples at each of the stages.  For example, at the ‘building relationships’ stage on the worker side we will discuss points learned from interviews with service users as to what a worker can do to make them feel comfortable, including the importance of keeping to regular meeting times, remembering names and key facts.  We will also add suggestions that were given by workers at the projects we have studied on how to build rapport – for example sharing a small amount of information about themselves, or discovering shared interests to create an equal footing for the relationship to be based upon.

In order to supplement these practical ideas, we will also be producing a version of the model containing the procedures of a fictitious ‘gold standard’ organisation.  This takes the elements that different organisations from the study excel at and combines them to provide the ‘perfect’ example of how the intervention will work.  We hope that by combining the practical hints and tips, as well understanding how all of the processes fit together within this ‘gold standard’, professionals will be able to use the intervention to suit their own working style and the strengths and limitations of their organisation.

By continuing to conduct fieldwork as this process occurs, the model stays fresh and dynamic and ensures that the practical guidance that we offer from it does the same.

Once we have completed this process, we will be sending out a draft of the model and accompanying guidance to a wide range of individuals for their opinions.  If you are reading this post and feel that you would like to offer your perspective, please do get in touch with one of us at the study and we can talk about how you would like to contribute.

Next week, we will be visiting a project supported by Hestia in Kingston called Kingston RISE.  This service user led group is big on co-production with other organisations and should help us to discover more about how best organisations can link with external agencies to increase their members’ social capital.  For more information on Kingston RISE’s work, please have a look at this article.

The Updated Intervention Model! Comments Please!

Now the fieldwork at BlueSCI is complete, a model of the intervention upon which we will base all of our training material is ready for your comments.  This is still a work in progress and has the potential to change based on any findings in later fieldwork.

You can either click on the link here for the animated version The Updated Intervention Model (you will need powerpoint to view this), or have a look at the still image below.

We would really value any comments that you have about this model.  Is there something missing, or something that you feel doesn’t need to be included? Please place any comments below this post, or email them to us directly at hannah.reidy@kcl.ac.uk

Thanks, and we look forward to hearing your views!