Change that leads to better lives

Let it evolve … Collaborate and Coproduce

Amanda Nally from the Community Led Support Programme talks about how to hear from people who don’t often have a voice.

The Community Led Support programme is an engine for change – it’s an approach, and we know it can deliver significant benefits. But to realise its value there are key things in how it is implemented that will determine the extent and the sustainability of the changes it brings into effect.

Working alongside and supporting Network members on the programme, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of coproduction and collaboration and of getting a wide range of stakeholders on board early on, particularly including people with lived experience and family carers. This is probably the most significant success factor. Their insight will be invaluable and if they can inform and be involved in implementing a different way of working, they will be its greatest champions.

Yet quite often this is the hardest to achieve, especially in the early days when forming the local vision.

Who to involve?

How to hear from people who don’t often have a voice? How to avoid the conversations being a platform for individual complaints and campaigns? How to build the relationships quickly enough to build trust and openness to help shape the local redesign.

Catherine Jones, Director Adult Social Care, and Sally McGrail, Head of Service – Business and Service Development, Adult Social Care at Warrington Borough Council have approached this wholeheartedly.

Warrington Speak Up, a local Advocacy organisation have been commissioned to focus on the local CLS programme; to ensure the voices of local people are listened to, heard and acted upon.

Pip Horne, Senior Projects Coordinator is leading this piece of work and ahead of Warrington ‘Going Live’ in the first area of the Town the benefits are clear to see.

“It was an exciting opportunity for us in Warrington and we felt that as things progressed and we started to get involved with NDTi and the sessions on good conversations and the whole principles of the programme, it really sat comfortably with us. So, it worked for us to be involved. It wasn't jarring with principles”

One recent exercise to develop standards that people should expect from the ‘service’ captured the ‘professional’s’ standards as aspirational, challenging to current practice and ‘system’, yet the people’s voice (gathered by Pip) gave more personal and heartfelt expectations. Highlighting that they wished for a conversation that led to making a difference; that they left feeling cared about and most importantly [as we can often jump to redesigning physical, tangible ‘services’] most people weren’t seeking formal support services, they wanted to utilise their local community.

Pip recently explained the approach and what it means for local people as well as the conditions for Warrington Speak Up to demonstrate that when redesigning services advocacy can play an essential part

“The ideas that they (people) have when you do give them the time and the space and they opportunity to think about what can we do? What can we do and how can we do it and what difference will that make? They have great ideas, you know, so that that's really encouraging as well

We have been delivering advocacy in Warrington for getting on for 20 years now and we have a very healthy professional relationship both with the local authority and health. But clearly our role is very often to challenge. When we're there working alongside individuals who are going through or trying to negotiate a process, stressful and challenging, we know our challenges are robust to the local authority.

Our independence is an absolute priority for us, the ethos of the organization is completely underpinned by the advocacy charter. We know for sure that what we're doing is professional and appropriate and within the boundaries, the scope and the remit of the role and therefore we can challenge confidently, but respectfully. We know that the people that we're challenging are professionals also; we are all doing our job. Our job is to make sure that the voice of the individual is heard in the process."

Key points from Pip:

  • Make sure that the decision makers genuinely want it to happen, because if it's an exercise in consultation that's not the same; you need to have buy in right from the people who are in a decision making position that. We want to hear this and we will adapt to change and develop based on what's said.
  • Go with an open mind and a listening ear, be prepared to just sit and listen, listen, listen and make sure that you ask the right questions. Try and help them and frame the questions and the approach so that they have a hope of understanding what it is they can influence and be involved in.
  • AND always, always be prepared for the fact that it's a conversation.

So to reflect …..

We can lead, shape, design and develop support but most importantly we need to ensure it’s person led and outcomes focused. We need to create the opportunity to have Good Conversations and TRULY listen, involving and utilizing the experiences of people. The role of advocacy is essential to getting this right as Warrington are showing us.

We hope that this example encourages more leaders, of all organisations, to consider how they can truly collaborate and coproduce service redesign using the skills of Advocates.

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Amanda Nally

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