Cambridge Cyrenians: a re-shake of the support plan model for longer staying residents

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We have previously used a variety of forms to capture the support needs of residents, however due to long term issues in Cambridge with the availability of housing, sometime these support plans have become very stagnant and haven’t seemed to invoke much enthusiasm from the residents.   



I was very keen to look at the idea used by Look Ahead of asking all residents at the on-set to think about their lives using four questions: I am, I can, I will and I want. 

I hoped that by using these questions right from the interview stage all the way through the hostel process would allow residents to have greater control of where their life was going, and hopefully throw up ideas by them of how to change direction in their own minds.

In what way has it improved outcomes/the service?

Initially the change for the residents has been less significant and it is possible that some may be unaware that we have tried to implement any change in thinking.   We hope that those who have taken a greater interest in identifying their own outcomes are appreciating the input that they now can have and the transfer of power giving them more responsibility.

What changes did you have to make?

There were very straight forward changes that had to be made to the documentation we hold in the office.  It was felt that the questions required highlighted on all literature about Cyrenians from the interview leaflets through to the handbooks for residents after they had moved in to the properties.   This was actually a lot easier do to then initially thought.  All staff involved in carrying out interviews and move in meetings were informed of the changes and that they needed to highlight these questions to the prospective residents and residents at move in. 

As well as incorporating it in to this documentation we then added it in to the file information on all long stay residents.  This exercise took longer as it involved meetings at each of the properties to ask all residents their thoughts on the questions and then awaiting their written feedback in the form of their answers to be held on file.

Did you encounter any challenges/obstacles and how did you resolve them?

Break everything down, no matter how unrealistic an end goal is, in to small bite size pieces and tackle one at a time.

Staff embraced the change, our challenge being supporting the longer stay residents to think positively about their own futures plus working with them to have ownership and control over how they were going to achieve their own goals.  A significantly number still wanted us to have the ‘lions share’ of the activity that enabled them to achieve their desired outcomes.  We perceived this as a fear of failure and that if things weren’t going so well, the responsibility would lie with staff rather than them.  Others put very large barriers in front of their own plans or the goals identified were unrealistic.  The way we managed this was to break outcomes down down in to step by step plans, so that they could then work towards this achievement.  We had to recognise for many as this felt like a drawn out process and as nothing was happening as quickly they gave up.  Persistence however gave us our way forward we go back to small steps and what is their preferred outcome. 

We are seeing progress as new residents moving in to the premises this has worked more effectively and been very rewarding for residents.  There has been enthusiasm to set outcomes and they can see the process it will take to get them there.  Whilst it hasn’t been a completely successful transition to the new paperwork and system for support plans but we will persevere and keep on.

Top tips?

  • It is a lot easier to start with the newer residents and sometimes this is a better option as then word of mouth spreads to the other existing residents and they then look at the four questions in a better light. 
  • Persistence and try and break everything down no matter how unrealistic an end goal in to small bite size pieces and tackle one at a time, try to ensure that this is completed (even if not resolved) before moving on.

Want more info? Email Emma Hooton emma@cambridgecyrenians.org.uk