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
The Lanark Project provides short/medium term accommodation (up to eight weeks), along with support and advice to people experiencing a period of homelessness.
Focus of this study
This study shows how BTHA uses the Better Futures tool to generate a constructive and progressive dialogue between the support worker and the person being supported. It also illustrates how the use of this framework changes positively the relationship between worker and supported person.
How Better Futures makes a difference
Conventional support planning starts with an assessment of need and typically follows a checklist to help identify ‘deficits’ and, therefore, what support is required. Better Futures, like any outcomes-focussed approach, still has a list of outcome areas, but only to provide an aide memoir within the support planning conversation and ensure most, if not all, potential desired outcomes are considered. Critically, the process is more flexible and dynamic and is centred on what the person wants or feels able to achieve at that time rather than on deficits.
The following table sets out what has changed in terms of the workers and supported people’s experiences since Better Futures was introduced as a support planning tool. Comparison is made to the support planning approach taken before. All the observations are based on an interview with the Project Manager and one of the Project Workers who has been using Better Futures since it was introduced several years ago.Some of the changes for the support worker refer to the shift in approach, attitude and behaviour that has been required to work in a more outcomes-focussed way.
Three examples of outcome wheels are shown below. These illustrate BTHA’s use of Better Futures across a wide age range and how the goals and achievements against outcomes are very different for each person. In these examples people have generally set a target of zero, shown as the darker line along the outer ‘rim’ of the wheel, indicating they aim to require no support in the future. A person can choose not to set targets for some aspects of their goals and so the darker line does not necessarily link all the elements within their support plan.
The outcomes wheel above belongs to an older man (70) who had been in prison over a long period. Once out of prison he experienced difficulties adjusting to community living. The wheel illustrates how priorities have shifted for this person. Initially he had placed emphasis on getting work and skills development, but then he decided to retire and get more involved in leisure activities. The ‘other’ heading relates to the aims of moving from the project to a supported flat and arranging with the DWP to take his pension early. This took over as a priority from those of looking for work or other meaningful activity.
The next outcomes wheel belongs to a young woman in her twenties. Following the breakdown of her marriage she found herself with nowhere to live. The graph shows how, for a number of key issues, there was little initial movement. In particular mental health, employment and leisure were all ‘pegged’ at the same place at the initial review. However, the jump in suitability of property and meaningful activity corresponds to significant progress across several outcome areas.
The outcomes wheel above belongs to a young man in his late teens. Relationships with his parents broke down and they could no longer accommodate him. It illustrates well how an individual’s perceptions can rapidly change. Initially this person saw his world as very limited. The only glimmer of hope being security of accommodation. What follows is a rapid progress towards all outcome areas. Of course not everyone will achieve such dramatic progression. Indeed, progress might be measured in a slowing of regression, but Better Futures provides a means of getting into discussions about a wide range of issues that impact ultimately upon people’s ability to sustain a tenancy and live a meaningful life in their community.
“It is a brilliant tool and great to see how I made progress. I didn’t think I made that much progress. The visual tool was great – the wheel and diagram had made more of an impact than words ever would have done.”
Betty is 75, she has learning disabilities and has been receiving on-going support from BTHA for over eight years through a separate contract with the council. The use of Better Futures has had noticeable impact and staff in the project say that, “she has ‘come on leaps and bounds as the visual tool has shown her how much she as achieved over the years, which gives her more confidence and the skills to be independent”.
Betty herself puts it more simply: “I think it is great, I can see how far I have come”
BTHA is currently reviewing its internal IT system throughout the organisation. This includes looking to maximise the use of the electronic recording capabilities of Better Futures with a view to the Support Planning process eventually becoming paperless.
Looking ahead, BTHA would like to give people it supports direct access to the online system so that they can see and review their own support plans as and when they choose.
To find out more contact:
Blue Triangle Housing Association – Lesley Munro, Project Manager firstname.lastname@example.org 01555 666 886
Better Futures – Heather McCluskey, Information Officer email@example.com 0131 475 2676