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This was part of a project for Leicestershire County Council’s Innovation Challenge, co-ordinated by Community Catalysts. The session was attended by an ideal mix of residents, family carers and staff.
Sally Taylor, Head of Supported Housing for East Midlands Housing Association (EMHA) and representatives from Age UK who provide care services also participated. This wide range of perspectives always makes for a lively session, and Anna Geyer from New Possibilities supported with expert graphic recording.
Gill worked with Sally and with St Mary’s staff in advance of the session to plan key topics:
Choice and control, nutrition, mobility, staying connected in the community…
The aim was to explore how people felt about living at St Mary’s, what they liked and disliked and any issues that they wanted to raise. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the fabulous inter-generational Arts project many of them had recently enjoyed.
Residents were clearly very happy with their lives at St Mary’s. One look at the fabulous refreshments provided and the general feeling of well-being in the room, told us that nutrition was not really an issue. However, discussions about staying connected in the community and the new strong relationship (through the Arts project) with the local primary school led to fascinating discussions about how people felt about computing and technology and how St Mary’s could build on this new local link.
Gill’s 90 year old mother attended and became a bit of a reluctant star as she had published a blog post in Gill’s “In my shoes” guest blog series that day. This led to great interest and much merriment about blogging and the use of computers and technology. It became very apparent how important language and clear explanations are.
One lady was initially very resistant to the whole concept of blogging but then revealed that she loved writing and kept a diary. Changing times, changing words. But everyone agreed how important it is to feel connected and valued. We looked at practical ways for people to understand technology better. Someone suggested a further schools project around computer buddying; someone else wanted to try using a Wii! We concluded by writing some poems and tweeting live about our afternoon, again combining traditional and modern forms of communication.
This is how Whose Shoes?® sessions work – the tool naturally opens up the topics that the participants themselves want to talk about and starts to identify where their challenges or key issues lie. And everyone had a great time! There was a lovely vibrant atmosphere – some of the group told us they call themselves “The Recycled Teenagers” when booking Community Transport. No Asbos were issued… Now EMHA and St Mary’s are following up, with the residents, the issues raised.
Why is it that it the best providers always want to improve further whilst others never enable their clients to ‘have a voice’…?
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.