Better conversations: Simplifying Support Plan Recording

Name of the organisation: Wealden District Council

Contact persons:  Ann Karas, Supported Housing Team Leader / Irene Rolfe, Sheltered Housing Co-ordinator
Phone: 01323 443363 (Hailsham office)

Personalisation Activity:
To review and re-write the support plans following discussions with residents and staff who found the current version bureaucratic and impersonal. A team of staff and residents worked on the new format to make sure it was one everyone involved found useful, interesting and user friendly.

Who was involved?
Residents, scheme managers and Wealden DC sheltered residents’ engagement group, SHRG.

Wealden DC provides sheltered housing with housing related support to older people in the district.  The nature of the sheltered housing service, and its client group, means WDC staff must record a considerable amount of personal information about residents, including medical histories, medicines currently taken etc., during residents’ support plan conversations. This was something they found lengthy, sometimes boring, and which had been dictating the length and tone of the regular support planning which must be carried out by the resident and scheme manager.

Staff and residents agreed that the original form used was too lengthy and directed their conversations away from what - and who - was important to the resident.  The support plan was therefore completely overhauled by a small team of scheme managers in consultation with some volunteer residents. The practical information is still recorded, but is now kept to a minimum, allowing the conversation to concentrate on five main prompts, with discussions recorded under the following headings:

• Who and what is important to you?
• Tell me about your work or life history
• What involvement do you have in your community?
• What are you interested in?
• What decisions have you made, or do you think you will be making, in the future, and what do you want from your future?

Notes are made on these topic headings and the support action plan resulting is recorded under the relevant SP outcome headings for that client, to be reviewed at the next meeting.

Time frame:
The new support plan was piloted in May 2014 for new residents and reviews.  Residents involved were asked for feedback at the time and other residents were asked to make comments on the new model at two social gatherings in May 2014.  The model was presented to SHRG executive for comment at their May meeting, and then rolled out across all the schemes and residents in June 2014.

What evidence do you have that this resulted in improved outcomes for individuals using services?
Residents report that the new support planning is less bureaucratic and leads to, “a more natural and interesting conversation”. It supported them to feel more like their own person again, reminding some of them of interests they had let slide, and contacts they wanted to maintain. They felt the new support planning model meant they were more likely to engage with the sheltered housing service and achieve what they wanted to achieve. Residents also reported they were reminded and encouraged to maintain familial and other natural support networks.

How this resulted in improved outcomes for the service itself?
Better client engagement in support planning in the sheltered housing service. 
•WDC is learning more about its residents, so is better able to signpost to relevant support and better able to liaise with other agencies / relatives / carers.
•Better scheme based relationships between staff / residents and residents / residents, as WDC are better able to facilitate different interest groups and related social activities.

What challenges did the organisation face? How were these resolved?
Staff were initially wary of being tasked with their own joint staff / resident working group on this, but it worked well once the first meeting was set up and they realised they shared the same concerns and intentions. This is a model we will now consider in the future for reviewing forms and documents commonly used in the housing service.

TIP - Making sure only the new model support plans are used, explaining the purpose of the change to other Council colleagues.

Are there any resources you are able to share?
Electronic copies of the new plans / paperwork
Staff time and experience, at both management, and scheme management, level.