Choosing meaningful lifestyle choices
South Lanarkshire Council wanted to move from a day care centre service delivery model (where daily activities are designed and provided by the center), to a model that enables individuals with learning difficulties to engage in meaningful lifestyle choices by focusing on the outcomes they believed would improve their quality of life.
Day care centre managers were aware these changes were making some staff, parents and carers anxious. There would be changes to their roles and responsibilities, they weren’t sure how they would support people achieve what they wanted in life, and they were apprehensive about the benefits of this change to the people supported.
The shift from a service-led to an outcomes-focused approach to delivering social services and health is underway in Scotland. It is a shift that has been heralded as key to creating innovative and responsive services, capable of satisfying the needs of individuals and those that support them, as well as an important means of achieving cost effectiveness
An outcomes-focused approach requires a significant culture shift at both an individual and organisational level. It involves questioning embedded ways of working, and staff need clear direction on what it means to practice in an outcomes-focused way. They also, very importantly, need to know that they are supported in doing things differently.
Utilising the application of an experience lab we involved all of the stakeholders this new way of working would involve and effect. We created a safe yet challenging experience for day care centre staff that supported them to develop their outcomes focused practice. We also invited all the stakeholders to engage in reflective sessions so people could engage with how this new process made them feel and how they could re-design the service process so people felt better supported to work in an outcomes focused way.
- Day care centre staff reported the experience lab ‘shed a light on new ways of working’, explained they felt ‘informed and confident’, and had a ‘greater understanding’ of the impact of changes to the service provision.
- The practical nature of the lab meant practitioners reported being able to ‘test the boundaries’ of their new role, had become ‘facilitative… promoting change in a positive way’, and in some cases, were thinking differently as a consequence of this experience.
- Some reported being more ‘open-minded’, ‘creative’, ‘aware they needed to think through negotiations and implications of practice’ and were able to ‘think more clearly’ about their work.
- Practitioners also reported ‘learning to listen’ and ‘communicate more effectively’, and found utilising tools during conversations useful.
- People with learning difficulties explained that after the experience lab intervention they felt they were in control of the conversation instead of the staff parents or carers. Some explained there was a difference in the way the staff listened, ‘before it was as if working with a template, in the experience lab it was more about me’.
- Since the lab, people who access support have reported feeling positive and clear about what they want to achieve in life and in control of making this happen, ‘I have a goal in mind now that I didn’t have before’, ‘I learned who I was’ and ‘the experience helped me think about where I am heading in life’.
- All participants involved explained that learning from other people’s perspectives was valuable and the time they had been given to do this was ‘precious’.
- How to run and experience lab guide
- Case study
The Day Care Service manager decided to replicate this experience in each of the six centres in South Lanarkshire.
An evaluation of the scaled work one year on noted that there had been an improvement in communication and trust between families and service providers which was supporting the understanding of the new model and in some cases better enabling it.