Developing Person Centred Teams

Michelle Livesley is this month's guest blogger. Michelle works for Helen Sanderson Associates and has worked within provider organisations for the past 14 years. 

Michelle joined Carolynn and the team to help them focus on person-centred teams, and implementing the new personalised rota. We interviewed her about her role and the changes she has seen.

What was your role in working with Carolynn and the team?

 "My role was to support Carolynn and the team whilst they were implementing the actions that had arisen out of the Planning Live sessions. One of my passions is organisational change, and crucial to this is giving people, in particular, managers, adequate support so that they feel equipped to manage the changes that arise when people using services are truly listened to. My other role was to provide additional training to Carolynn and her team which would support them to build on their existing processes, such as meetings and supervision. I think that the intensive work done with the team and manager has been really successful, I've seen huge changes not only in the way people are supported, but also in the team culture."

Dimensions pic MayTake us through what you did step by step.

"Following Planning Live I had a mentoring day with Carolyn on person-centred supervision. Carolynn believed that staff had a historical perception of supervision being punitive and therefore a  negative experience, regardless of how she had tried to approach it. Because of this, there was a tendency for structured supervisions to be infrequent although informal guidance was available at any time. The point of supervision of staff is to allow for time and space to focus on supporting them through the structural and ideological changes taking place and to focus on the outcomes for the individuals being supported. Staff need to understand their role within the changes and the one to one time afforded by supervision ensures that there are opportunities to reflect on this. This session with Carolyn equipped her with a process that she could follow which would help her to better support her staff team.

I then did a day with the team on Positive and Productive meetings. The purpose of this session was to highlight that alongside the supervision sessions, meetings were an important place to focus on plans and outcomes and that because of this, they needed to be robust in structure and happen frequently. I started the session by teaching the theory behind Positive and Productive meetings and in the afternoon the team put the practice into theory and held a team meeting applying the knowledge and rules they had learnt in the morning. I noticed massive changes from the morning to the afternoon. Staff members were keeping to the ground rules, and holding each other to account. The fact that at the end of the day the staff members had ownership and experience of what a successful meeting was like was a huge improvement and achievement.

We also did a session on Community Connecting to help staff to see themselves as a resource and not absolutely everything to the people they supported, because this approach made the individuals being supported less independent and the staff more entrenched in providing traditional care. The aim of the session was for staff to see themselves as bridges to the community. For some it was tricky and for others less so, but the whole group grasped the idea of supporting the 6 individuals being supported into getting involved with the wider community very quickly."

My final sessions focused on building person centred teams. We spent time agreeing the purpose of the team, what was important to the team as a whole, what was important to each individual in the team and what best support looked like. The team then analysed how well they were doing in relation to these areas, prioritised what they needed to work on and developed an action plan. It was clear that differences of opinion within the team had contributed to some internal conflict. People still weren't getting regular opportunities to come together due to difficulties around coordinating whole team meetings, therefore some team members anxieties or assumptions were not being addressed when needed. We used some of the time to explore the issues and clarify practical next steps."

What were the outcomes of this work - what difference has been made?

 "The team were not accustomed to meeting regularly, therefore when they did, they took the opportunity to say their piece. This meant that people often felt talked over by one another, side conversations would take place and staying focussed on the agreed agenda would be problematic. Stronger team members managed to have their say while quieter team members didn't get much chance to contribute". What I saw in the Positive and Productive meetings was that when the team agreed their own ground rules and roles for their meetings, they initial approached this in a tongue in cheek fashion, however, when they started to implement their roles, they could see the benefit of what they were doing and started to take things more seriously.

The most notable change was in the use of the thinking rounds, Brien was the rounds leader and did a really good job of ensuring that every person had an opportunity to speak. In particular, one young support worker said that the new structure of the Positive and Productive meetings made him feel empowered and able to voice his opinion. For the individuals being supported, a lot has changed. For example, one persons' life is much more focused on her Perfect Week and from this she has already made a new friend, another person is looking into setting up a business and Anne Marie has had a lot more family contact. The team are now passionate when things work as well as when they don't work as well - it's a really different place now compared to how it was when we started the journey. Although there is still a lot of work to do to embed the changes into the day to day functioning of the team"


Next month Steve Scown will share what has happened in the work that the leadership team has been doing.


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