Guest post by Philippa Codd
UPDATE…. And here is the Video of “Growing our Community” Whose Shoes? event – Cherwell Care
We are all still buzzing from the fantastic #Cherwell (yes, we even had a #hashtag!) service user engagement event we held in Bicester on 2 June 2011. I have been working with Cherwell Care during 2011 to help the owners, Graham and Eileen, develop their home care business and make it truly reflect the needs of their service users. We are aiming for a 21st century approach, delivering support in a person-centred way, reaching out to the local community and seeing how we can work together to promote independence and help people live as long as possible in their own homes with the best possible support.
Whose Shoes? was a fantastic tool to explore the issues and get people working together. The informal atmosphere and expectations of a game meant that everyone contributed, an element that can be an insurmountable challenge for more traditional community engagement approaches which tend to favour those who are most confident or vociferous!
Well, the service users certainly told us what they thought! They told us what was working well already and what needed to improve – and since then we have concentrated on ACTION to make a difference! Carrie Lewis, graphic facilitator from New Possibilities, had captured so many important issues and we have used this artwork constantly as we have followed up the points raised over the following weeks. Firstly we divided all the points into different categories:
What can we at Cherwell Care change ourselves? – Lets’s do it! Is it quick and easy… let’s do it NOW! Keeping in touch with people … we have started a newsletter. Is it within our control, but a little longer-term …. let’s built it into action plans and set a definite goal and timescale (Example: We are now setting up gardening, cleaning and handymen services with “vetted” workers; also we are introducing more social events – all in direct response to the Growing our Community event!)
What can the Local Authority change? – Lets’s talk to them! Several very constructive meetings have been held with Oxfordshire County Council who were represented at the event. (Outcome : Cherwell Care is now recognised as a provider who listens to their service users and has an important role in shaping the market to deliver the outcomes that service users have requested; improved communication and partnership working)
What requires involvement from the wider community? – Lets’s work with the council to make it happen! And this is the stage we are at now: for example, the council is arranging meetings with the bus company (looking at how to make older people and disabilities feel safe using public transport) and Royal Mail (people want post boxes to be more convenient!)
Moving forward… NOT a one -off event! So often events like these can be a one-off event. At worst nothing actually happens. At best, good stuff happens but nobody actually thinks to tell the people themselves how they have influenced policy and what has changed. We are determined this will not happen here!
We have sent a newsletter to service users (posted separately) keeping everyone informed of how the views they expressed are continuing to shape services and informing them of new developments as we move forward.
We have won a new contract making us the leading home care provider in Bicester, Kidlington and Banbury. We are involving one of the service users who attended our event fully in the recruitment process. He will take part in a full-day assessment process for three new Care Co-ordinators who will manage the teams of care workers in each locality.
We are committed to running another Whose Shoes? day checking out how people feel and what we still need to do!
Whose Shoes? is a fantastic “tool for change”. It helps people relax , have fun and discuss the real (sometimes contentious) issues in a meaningful and constructive way. Everyone has a voice and people feel encouraged to say how they really feel. It was great to test out and develop some new messages about nutrition and mobility, use of technology by older people and people staying connected in their own communities. This tool has huge potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.
We are looking forward to the next event!
By Philippa Codd, Independent Consultant, who co-manages “The personalisation group to revolutionise social care” on LinkedIn with Gill Phillips.