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And it takes a relaxed, informal atmosphere to encourage people to be open and honest. And so it was when Cherwell Care, a home care provider in Oxfordshire, invited their clients along to an innovative “Growing Our Community” event – and really listened to what they had to say.
The aim was to deliver a truly person-centred service, reaching out to the local community and promoting independence and choice.
The afternoon started with a Whose Shoes?® workshop led by Gill Phillips, exploring mobility, nutrition, independence, use of technology and the wider challenge of people ‘staying connected’ in the community. We considered the roles of not just family and friends and informal carers but people such as bus drivers, shop assistants, hairdressers… people who really have a chance to influence whether older people “have a nice day” – or not!
There was a real buzz in the room. A constant stream of post-it notes was fed through to Carrie, our talented graphic facilitator from New Possibilities. Before long the huge blank piece of paper on the wall was filling up with words and pictures reflecting all the “expert by experience” points that were being made about what it is like to grow old in the 21st century.
The rest of the afternoon passed in a whirl – socialising over a traditional afternoon tea with tiered cake stands and posh tea cups; a “growing” demonstration by “the Flowerpot Men” including how to grow your own vegetables, even in tiny spaces; and new friendships blossoming.
A small extract from Carrie’s mural: recording the key issues
The wide ranging discussions were very revealing. One lady had felt obliged to get out of her hospital bed to help others who couldn’t reach their drinking cups. Another said she was not allowed to help set the table in her day centre unless she was wearing rubber gloves. Age UK Silver Surfer courses had brought a whole new life to one man; helpful families, neighbours and reliable care staff were much appreciated as were meals delivered to the door; alarm systems to reassure the family; and recommended, trusted handymen. There was special praise for a bus driver who always waited until everyone was seated before setting off, thereby giving people confidence to use public transport.
Philippa & Cherwell staff look at the key messages
There were lots of great suggestions that would not cost huge amounts of money: more seats inside shops, and practical sharing of ideas and simple tips – a rather deaf couple now know how to get subtitles on their television!
There was a real buzz to the afternoon – it was a very sociable event but the clients said very clearly what was working well already and what needed to improve. The focus then shifted to ACTION to make a difference, working through all the issues recorded by the graphic facilitator.
Cherwell Care owners were visibly thrilled to have had the chance to meet their clients and to explore and record the things that were important to them. They were open to new ideas and improvements, which were systematically followed up. Owner Graham Barclay said “We have a real opportunity to develop the service in line with clients’ wishes. This will be really crucial over the next few years”.
For more detail of how the event was followed up, please see a special guest blog by the mastermind of the event, Philippa Codd.
Whose Shoes?® is a fantastic “tool for change”. It helps people relax, have fun and discuss the real (sometimes contentious) issues in a meaningful and constructive way. Everyone has a voice and people feel encouraged to say how they really feel. This tool has huge potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Mango Social Care Consultancy
The images used on the website page backgrounds are based on graphic records
produced in real time during 'Whose Shoes®' events by New Possibilities Ltd.