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 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!

A week of updates…

It’s the end of summer and the Connecting People team are feeling relaxed and refreshed, not to mention sporty due to all of the Olympics that we have been watching.  We are raring to continue moving forward with the next stages of the project.

Each team member has been working on different aspects of the project over the summer.  Over the next week we will be updating you on these different aspects of the study to give you an idea of where we are up to, and what we are planning to do next.


Funding confirmed for pilot of Connecting People Intervention

The pilot of the Connecting People Intervention will start in 2012, thanks to success with a bid to the third wave of NIHR School for Social Care Research funding.

The grant provides funding for a multi-site pilot to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Connecting People Intervention in comparison with other interventions aimed to promote well-being and social participation. We will be drawing on the expertise of our collaborators to ensure its success: Professor David Morris (Inclusion Institute, University of Central Lancashire),  Professor Paul McCrone (Centre for the Economics of Mental Health, IoP), Dr Martin Stevens (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London), Peter Bates (National Development Team for Inclusion) and Polly Kaiser (Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust).

About the pilot study

It is increasingly important for social care service users in England to develop social relationships and engage in their local communities as care provision diversifies. Social care workers have some skills in supporting people with this, but there is little evidence about which approaches are the most effective or best value for money. This study will provide evidence about ways of working which produce the best outcomes at the lowest cost.

The study will have four components:

1) We will begin with a systematic review of research conducted on this topic across the world to identify examples of effective social care practice. We will also look for examples of good social care practice in England in helping people to participate in their communities and enhance their individual well-being.

2) Building on the work of the Connecting People study with people experiencing psychosis, which is developing a new way for workers to help people with their social relationships (the ‘Connecting People Intervention’), we will develop equivalent guidance for workers supporting people with a learning disability or older adults with a mental health problem. We will consult experts, including users of social care services and their carers, about this guidance to help ensure it is fit for purpose.

3) We will develop a questionnaire to be used in our research that will measure the extent to which workers are following the intervention guidance.

4) We will invite six social care agencies across England to test the Connecting People Intervention and an additional six, identified in the first part of the project, to continue to use their existing ways of working. We will invite 240 people with mental health problems, a learning disability or older adults with a mental health problem receiving services from these agencies for the first time to take part in the study. Participants will be interviewed when they start receiving services, and again twelve months later. They will all be asked the same questions to help us to evaluate the extent to which the Connecting People Intervention is effective and represents good value for money in helping people to improve their social participation and well being.

We aim to ensure that the project will have a significant impact on social care in England by sharing findings about effective and cost-effective ways of improving social participation and well-being widely throughout the sector.

The full technical protocol for the pilot study can be downloaded here.

Updates about the pilot of the Connecting People intervention will be posted on the study blog.

New face, new phase

Since the last post on this blog, the original research worker on the Connecting People Project – David – has headed off to pastures new and has been replaced by me, Hannah.

I have a background in research but my most recent job was at a mental health resource centre. This front line experience makes me really keen to ensure that the intervention created by this project is as user-friendly, effective, and true to life as possible.

I’ll be keeping you updated on any new developments to the project and asking for your feedback on the intervention, so please keep checking back to this blog. As I head off to start phase 2 of the fieldwork in Manchester at BlueSCI next week, I echo David’s previous post…roll on Monday!

Focus group update

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…

Study Update

Our first phase of data collection has drawn to a close as we have visited five organisations and have conducted interviews and observations with 80 participants!  We are currently in the process of analysis and are coordinating focus groups to share our preliminary findings with participants and develop new strategies for Phase 2!