Better knowledge, better targeting, better outcomes – HELP Argyll and Bute Ltd

Context

This case study is one in a series illustrating how organisations are using the Better Futures outcomes framework and monitoring tool to make the best use of resources and improve outcomes for people who need support.

Case Study Setting

HELP operates across Cowal and Bute providing support to 16-25 year olds who are either homeless, in threat of homelessness or leaving care. HELP’s vision which directs its objectives is ‘To support young people, who have no place to live, or are in threat of losing their home, to access and keep a house, and to provide support which will allow them to get a job or go to college.  In order that they can have a good and happy life, and become involved in their local community.

HELP’s approach to housing support is holistic and encompasses a wide range of activities that address the underlying challenges to sustaining a tenancy such as unemployment, poor health and well-being or a lack of sense of belonging to a community.  This includes Housing Support, A 12 week employment programme and a range of health and wellbeing activities, along with Welfare Information and Advice.

Focus of this study

This study looks at the range of benefits that HELP derives from using Better Futures. It then focusses on how trends in the types of support required can be easily analysed using the report function of the tool and sets out how this knowledge allows resources to be better targeted; allowing practice and organisational development to be informed by robust information. Ultimately, this enables the young people that HELP works with to get more out of life and be a greater part of their local community, and allows HELP to identify issues quickly and respond with targeted person centred support.

Why Use Better Futures?

“Housing support is not just tenancy support and Better Futures allows us to demonstrate this”. This was a comment made by the Project Manager at HELP when asked the question above. For HELP, supporting people with goals around the actual accommodation is still their primary goal, but they have recognised that in order to sustain a tenancy, service users need to enter employment and in order to enter employment they need to feel good about themselves. With this in mind, HELP’s housing support covers a range of barriers to achieving a positive outcome. The table below seeks to show how, in practice, the tool is used and relates this to the organisational benefits and outcomes for individuals.

HELP Table1

Examples of trends analysis

“We often think we know about how our services are being used, but you can get a skewed perspective from just listening to the loudest voices, or anecdotal evidence” (HELP Project Manager)

Here are some examples, in their own words, of how HELP has used Better Futures for trend analysis in order to respond to service user needs and issues.

Addictions – Recently, on reviewing the Better Futures information, we noted that the anecdotal concerns about service users struggling with potential Alcohol and Drug addiction issues were backed up with hard data on the level of need. As a result of this we held two workshops for young people where they could be provided with the facts. The workshops were called ‘Let’s talk about it’ and gave us an opportunity to sit down as a group and, with a professional, talk through the issues and consider how young people could address or avoid them. We then linked with the local addiction service, which is now providing regular counselling for individual service users. The outcomes are that young people are better informed, understand better the personal safety issues and are receiving appropriate support to address concerns.

Mental Health – Using Better Futures at support plan reviews allows us to gauge concerns and identify gaps in staff training. Recently we noted that one particular support worker had a number of young people who were presenting with a range of mental health issues. It was agreed that the support worker needed further training in this area to better understand the issues that were being presented and respond appropriately. The manager identified suitable training, which was delivered locally. The outcome is that workers are trained in specific areas identified by service user needs and are better able to respond to those needs.

Leisure – Better Futures highlighted the fact that significant numbers of service users wanted to access leisure activities, but could not always afford to do so. It also highlighted that service users found clubs difficult to attend if you didn’t know anyone and it was very difficult to go along by yourself without a huge amount of confidence. HELP used this information to create an activity programme that was later funded by Big Lottery. The programme allows young people to try a range of activities, but more importantly using existing clubs to deliver coaching so that the young people can continue to use the facilities and clubs beyond the programme. The outcome is that there is that service users are more socially included and they can extend their social networks while taking part in healthy activities, with a greater sense of belonging in their local community.

Employment and Meaningful Activity – HELP was successful in gaining funding for an Employment Co-ordinator through Big Lottery Funding. Better Futures allows the employment co-ordinator to access data, which informs what activities he provides. For example HELP currently provide a 12 week employment programme, so if there is a number of young people who are at a 4 – I feel I have no or few skills that I would need for employment, these young people would be targeted for the employment programme, which is designed to give them the necessary skills for employment.  If the young people areat 0 I have the skills necessary for employment or education, then the co-ordinator would target these young people on an individual basis to help them apply for jobs.  The outcome is that young people get the support that is most appropriate to where they are and this has resulted in 51 young people supported into employment in year-end December 2015. 

Impact

As part of HELP’s evaluation of its services it conducts an on-line consultation using a Monkey Survey questionnaire. This is designed to find out which services HELP’s young people have accessed, which they found most useful and why and how they rate the services that HELP provides.

This consultation allows HELP to evidence what young people feel about the services they receives and enables better planning of future services. This has resulted in HELP gaining the highest results (Excellent) across all categories in its Care Inspectorate reports.

A consultation was held at the beginning of February 2016 to coincide with the end of a second year of funding from Big Lottery and the results of this were that, of the young people surveyed:

  • 95.65% felt more involved in their local community as a result of engaging in some of our volunteer opportunities;
  • 86.96% felt they were involved in meaningful activity;
  • 97.01% felt they were more motivated since becoming involved with HELP;
  • 95.65% felt they had improved their employability skills and therefore felt more confident;
  • 97.01% said they feel healthier as a result of being support by HELP;
  • 91.10% felt they were in a home of their own choice.

Janet Mackellar, Manager at HELP sums up:

“These are a sample of the results. We believe these outcomes are a direct result of the activities we have been able to deliver and that these activities have been provided as a direct result of our analysis of Better Futures assessments.

Better Futures assessments have provided data, which has ultimately informed where we should direct our support and has also allowed us to provide evidence of need for funders. The process begins with each individual service user and his or her individual assessment and plan, then feeds then into a bigger picture. This directs what additional services we need to offer and provides evidence for funding bodies to enable us to deliver them, which then produces the outcomes above – From the young person, to the young person, for the young person.”

To find out more contact:

HELP – Janet Mackellar, Manager janet@help.org.uk     01369 707 600

Better Futures – Heather McCluskey, Information Officer heather.mccluskey@ccpscotland.org   0131 475 2676

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