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If there is one thing Real Life Options is open
to, it's change - especially if it means that something could work
even better than it does already. Recently, the leadership team
came to the conclusion that it was time for a change as we entered
the next phase in our person centred journey.
Our first leadership team was made up of a
cross-section of people representative of the organisation. People
we support, support workers, specialist roles and management. This
made sure that all of our objectives and aspirations were in the
best interests of everyone.
We are proud to say that person centred thinking
has been embedded into so much of what Real Life Options does - and
how we do it.
The main consideration now is momentum, making
sure we assess and improve the things that we do, and that we are
ready to make those changes when we need to. Good to Great kicked
off our drive to become a more person centred organisation, but the
focus has now changed.
A new leadership team has been formed - made up
by individuals best placed to achieve the goals in this second
phase of embracing person centred values. The main aims of the
leadership team for 'phase 2' are to identify and share good
practice, develop new ideas, and to communicate with
Now, the only thing that the new leadership team
is missing is a name. This has been thrown open to all readers of
the bi-monthly in-house newsletter, realnews, which includes staff,
people we support, their families, commissioners and partner
organisations. I look forward to sharing the name for phase 2 in
This month, the Real Life Option blog comes from Tracy Logan, a
member of the Good to Great Leadership Team and Support Worker
When I first heard about the Good to Great programme with Real
Life Options working in conjunction with Helen Sanderson
Associates, I was very excited. I believe that Real Life
Options has always been a person centred organisation, with the
service users we support at the centre of everything we do but
anything that ensures this continues, and helps all staff develop
their skills in person centeredness, has to be welcomed and
I supported Sean, a service user to the Leadership Group, not
knowing quite what to expect but enjoyed seeing people from all
over the organisation coming together to speak and debate the
various issues on how to ensure the programme moved forward.
I saw the group come together from all areas of the United Kingdom
and work together for the benefit of the organisation and the
people we support. Listening to the views of others
encouraged me to grow, share my thoughts, and to be more forward
thinking. Hearing the success stories and how other parts of the
organisation were doing was so encouraging and then to take that
information back to my service and share with my colleagues, made
them feel they were involved and realise that they could make a
difference. Good to Great just continues to grow and helps
inform our discussions, and using the tools makes for better time
As I said, Real Life Options always has been a person centred
organisation with regards to the people we support but being part
of the Management training, looking at different areas and how
person centred we are and could be, really energised me and
heightened my motivation. Anything that encourages person
centred interactions between colleagues is something I firmly
I believe strongly in the fact that what makes Real Life Options
a good organisation to work for, is there is very much an inclusive
culture, which means we continue to employ the best support
workers, which in turn will help enrich and increase service users
independence and choice. My motto is that not one person has
all the answers but I'm sure that within each team employed by Real
Life Options, there will be all the answers to any of the problems
that may arise, if we just ensure that everyone has a chance to
speak and is encouraged to do so. The Good to Great programme
has encouraged this and must continue to grow as people become more
and more comfortable with the processes and tools.
I put myself forward to do the Accreditation training for Person
Centred Thinking and was successful, which helped me achieve what
is important to me, this being that I continue to learn, grow and
develop within myself and my role. I now deliver the two day
Person Centred Thinking course every month and am able to speak
with support workers from all over the division I work within, it
is an amazing experience. To hear how small things are being
done to ensure that service users are having their wishes and
desires met is fantastic. The staff tell me that being trained in
how to use the tools to help with person centred practices will
only enhance, this makes me feel like a part of an ongoing process
to ensure that Real Life Options continues to grow and lead from
the front in social care.
This month's blog is by Suzanne Hala, Marketing and
Communications Manager for Real Life Options and member of the Good
to Great Leadership Team.
As Marketing and Communications Manager for Real Life Options, I
felt my natural role in the Good to Great Leadership team was to
share progress and news, to the rest of the organisation. With
1,800 staff spread across England and Scotland, this can produce
its own unique challenges!
Our main tool for internal
communication is realnews, a bi-monthly magazine that is read by
staff members, people we support and their families and
commissioners. It's a great medium to channel good news and success
stories from around the organisation.
My favourite tales have to be where taking a person centred
approach has made a huge difference in the lives of the people we
support. For example, I heard lately about a person who took their
one page profile in to hospital when undergoing an operation. The
staff at the hospital learnt so much about the patient within a few
minutes which helped the process and put the patient at ease.
I also enjoy sharing stories about people taking person centred
practices outside of the organisation. A lady who works as a
support worker for Real Life Options took the positive and
productive meeting format into her church meetings. She now says
that they are more efficient, interesting and yield more
As a marketing department, we also produce posters on a monthly basis concentrating on a
particular tool. These posters go up in services and offices. They
are a point of reference and can refresh memories from the tools
explained on the person centred thinking course.
The latest development is the creation of a website where our
progress as a leadership team can be mapped. There are photos,
blogs, calendar of events and a library of resources. It's in it's
infancy but is a timeless way to record our journey and make our
progress accessible to all.
I have to say, Good to Great has grown organically as much as it
has through communication work. Changing the way that we do things
is not always easy but has been adopted in quite a natural way as
once tried, the tools speak for themselves in producing benefits
not only for the people we support but in the way staff members and
teams interact with each other.
This month, the Real Life Option blog comes
from Sean. Sean is a person we support and is a member of
the Good 2 Great leadership team. Here, he talks about what Good 2
Great means to him.
"Good 2 Great means a lot to me, because it will move Real life
Options forward and myself with it. Allowing me to eventually
pick my own staff team and have the choices I want, this is similar
to what I have now with Real Life Options supporting me, but more
choice is a good thing and planning with me using the tools I
learned at the 2 days Person Centred Thinking is a great thing.
I like all the different tools used within the programme and
feel they will ensure that all staff are using Person Centred
Thinking to ensure all service users get the support they want.
The 'one page profile' is my favourite and this allows staff
to see how best to support me in the way that I want. It also
allows me to see what is important to my staff team which I think
is a step forward as they can begin to understand what its like to
have information about them out there, like all service users
I love being part of the Good 2 Great leadership team and
going down to Pontefract and to play my part and be the voice for
other service users within Real Life Options. I have enjoyed the
experience of being part of the excitement that has come from Good
2 Great. I have enjoyed making new friends such as Ruthie and the
others on the team. Good 2 Great is not just the future for
Real Life Options but it is my future too."
This month, the Real Life Option blog comes
from Albert Adomakoh, a Service Manager from London.
I believe that every organisation,
like any other living organism, has an ethos that guides decision
making and directs what we do. I joined RLO a few years ago and it
was apparent that the people we support were at the centre of what
When I heard of the G2G programme, I was quite excited, as I
realised the potential it had to positively impact the organisation
to achieve greatness in what we do and more importantly, the added
benefits of training individuals to utilise the tools needed to
Internal investment to ensure the future is fundamental and
valuable to any organisation. Some may question this, especially in
the current economic downturn, but I believe that it is an
indication of good leadership and planning to invest in the future.
Although it is difficult a time for everyone, the changes we are
going through present opportunities, both within and outside the
I admire Maya Angelou's quote on change:
'The need for change bulldozed a road down
the centre of my mind'.
As much as I am affected by organisational change, I count it a
privilege to be a part of the leadership programme and also to
participate in the training to use these tools.
The services I work in have greatly benefited from:
I believe that the G2G programme as a whole and our partnership
with Helen Sanderson Associates will positively influence what we
do - and no doubt move us on to greater heights.
This month, Paul Spooner, Management Accountant for
Real Life Options and member of the Good to Great Leadership Team
talks us through his experience of Good to Great and the changes he
has seen around the organisation.
Having worked for Real Life Options for 7 years,
it's clear to me that Good to Great has already and will continue
to have a massive impact on our organisation.
As soon as I received the initial training on Person-Centred
Thinking, I realised that there was a massive opportunity for us to
transform not only the way in which we relate to the people we
support (which has to remain our primary focus), but also the way
in which we do business with each other internally, and with our
partners in the wider social care community.
Some months into our programme, I'm as excited by it now as I
was on that first day, and that excitement is sustained and
enhanced by the changes I see daily in both individuals, and the
organisation as a whole. It's really satisfying to see that the
messages from Good to Great have taken on a life of their own and
are trickling through the organisation much more quickly than we
could have anticipated. I guess it demonstrates that people are
genuinely behind our aim to become a truly person centred
I'm privileged to be a member of the Good to Great Leadership
Team for RLO, which is helping to shape the direction of the G2G
transformation within the organisation. This group is made up of a
cross-section of people from all over the organisation and at all
levels, including people we support. The great thing about this
group is that it reflects to a large degree the way we already work
in RLO - everyone's view has equal merit, regardless of status, and
everyone has a voice that will be heard respectfully. We don't
always agree on everything, but the level of enthusiasm from
everyone in the group tends to get us through! I always find that
attending this group re-energises me to go back out and champion
the Good to Great message as best I can.
At this early stage in the programme, we are placing a lot of
emphasis on the One Page Profile; it's a great starting
point for everyone involved in Real Life Options from service
users, to staff, to families and commissioners to get a real
understanding of person centred thinking through beginning with
I've found that I've become much more aware of myself, my
drivers and triggers, by going through the process of putting my
profile together, and through reading my colleagues profiles, I've
become (I hope!) more sensitive to their support needs. This can
only bring positive results, helping us to work together better!
I'm trying to encourage people to share their profiles with each
other as often as possible for this reason.
I've also realised that the profile is a living document - it
changes over time, and it can change in relation to specific
activities or situations - I fully expect to have several different
versions for different situations - as an example, I just did one
purely in relation to me and coffee (with which I have a
complicated and slightly obsessive relationship!), so that I can
have conversations with people about the different aspects of their
personalities and daily lives they might want to capture in a
profile (or series of profiles), to help their colleagues
understand them a little better.
As a numbers man, I'm keen to keep track of our progress, and we
recently carried out a survey to benchmark our progress with
One-Page Profiles across the organisation, so that we can measure
again in a few months time, and then celebrate how far we've
travelled in that time.
I'm based in our Head Office, and have had the opportunity to
speak to the rest of the Head Office Staff about Good to Great
through our Head Office meeting. We recently used the Doughnut to look at
each department and then to identify any gaps or overlaps as a
team. From that perspective the programme has enabled us to become
more efficient as Head Office. The genius of the doughnut is its
simplicity. It's an easy tool to complete, yet the depth of
information that can be derived from it can have ground-breaking
effects. I also believe that it's a fantastic tool for eliminating
misunderstandings and tensions between one group of colleagues and
another, about what a team's role is. What my team thinks your team
should be doing may be radically different from what your team
thinks it should be doing! - So let's clear that up as soon as we
can! I'm trying wherever possible, through talking to people up and
down the organisation, to encourage teams to share their doughnuts
with each other.
I have dedicated a space in my office for Good to Great. It
includes my One Page Profile, those of colleagues, information
about my team and associated posters and communication. It's a good
way to capture the imagination of colleagues, and is a great
talking point (especially with the bowl of sweets and comfortable
chairs strategically placed in that area!)
As an organisation, we are delighted to have been invited
to blog on the Helen Sanderson website. Our journey began from a
niggle that although we're working hard and making a real
difference in the lives of people we support, we could be better
and we could achieve more. Each blog will be written by different
people from our organisation describing how Good to Great has
touched their lives and what it means to them.
Today, Lisa Watchorn (Operations Director) and Brian Hutchinson
(Chief Executive) share their experience of the start of our
journey from Good to Great.
As the new Director of Operations, I am thrilled to be
introducing Good to Great to Real Life Options. Having worked with
Helen Sanderson Associates in previous roles, I quickly identified
that Real Life Options, as a person centred organisation was a
perfect match for the Good to Great programme. We aren't looking to
change what we do; we are looking to make that one degree shift
from being a good organisation, to a great organisation. The
programme has also created opportunities to enter into dialogue and
build upon committed partnerships with commissioners and
We are and continue to be an organisation which breeds
individual creative support. The Good to Great tools create arenas
for honest and open conversation and an environment where it is
'ok' to challenge each other. Good to Great also allows us to
handle and evaluate our meetings in a consistent way. The tools are
making big differences- in little ways.
The best thing about good to great is the organic way it has
spread through the organisation from it's beginnings as a days
training session with the Good to Great leadership team (a team of
colleagues and people we support from around the organisation).
Conveying a new message and new way of working to 1,700 colleagues,
people we support, and their families across England and Scotland
is no easy task!
Our leadership meetings are enthusiastic and interactive, they
are made of senior management, support workers, and people that we
support ensuring that the message that is taken out to the
organisation worked for everyone. The people we support are growing
in confidence and telling us how to get it right! For example, Sean
Bryson, a person we support uses the Service User Forum to gather
opinion and share information from the Leadership Team
Like any good organisation, we try to put the people we support
at the heart of everything we do. I am privileged to be working
with Helen Sanderson Associates as partners and am excited to be
part of our journey from Good to Great.
Maybe I always would say this but to me it feels like "great to
greater!". I think our services and staff are fantastic as it is
but the chance and the tools to improve are clearly available to us
within the partnership with Helen Sanderson Associates. The next
two years hold some of the biggest challenges and biggest
opportunities that we have ever faced. I think that we will
transform the way that support is offered and truly enable the
people we support to take Real control of their lives. I hope that
everyone joins in and enjoys the next steps in Real Life Options
development. It's going to be great!