What is the point of having a cadre of staff out and about working with clients all day, every day, if we are not harnessing what they see and learn from these interactions?
Isn’t it better to capture these insights, than bland ‘support notes’, that simply record what was ‘done’.
Its time to shift the focus toward what is important to our clients and business – and how better to make the change than by shifting the focus of what we ask of our staff and what information we value.
Using the eyes and ears of staff – shifting our focus
In community care we have staff all day, every day, out in the community supporting clients and observing community life. What an untapped resource these valuable staff members are to our business knowledge that can be harnessed to impact our strategy.
But more importantly they can be key partners in the clients wellness/wellbeing journey.
IMPORTANT – The first step in this shift is to determine what is important for staff to capture and report on that will add value to their life and help them achieve their goals. It is these insights and learnings which when harnessed not only enrich the support you offer but helps your business understand how your business can be better shaped to help your clients and community.
NOT IMPORTANT BUT REQUIRED – The second step is to identify what MUST be captured but is not IMPORTANT. Anything is this domain we should look to automate or simplify.
These mundane and repeatable actions might include
- time you spent with a client,
- arrival/departure times,
- purpose of visit or interaction
- routine/regular observations,
- outcomes sought.
Once these are automated, or captured in a simplified form, time is freed up to focus on what is important.
What are the benefits of new ‘observation skills’
The benefits of a shift in thinking about what is important in our clients life.
- How are they going in meeting their goals,
- what are their challenges,
- do they have a strong community of support, and
- are there new and better ways of responding to these and building capacity.
We might also identifying situations in the community that might leave others vulnerable –
- those who are alone,
- isolated individuals with little or no support,
- people who are at risk in the community, and
- those who are experiencing significant changes in their life.
It’s not enough to eliminate the mundane, repetitive and routine tasks – new awareness and approaches to client support will not just happen they need to be learnt, supported and encouraged.
We train staff in a number of ways to support their role, but this is often focussed on the program requirements or specialist needs of the clients, not with a specific focus on identifying when they might need protection.
Training for new skills in looking and listening
I recently read about ‘eyes and ears’ training happening in the UK which is designed to equip community care staff identify and respond to signs that clients might need more than direct care support. This development came as part of program of support for local community ‘safeguard hubs’, or ‘multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH).
This approach resonated with me because it connected what support workers are seeing and hearing everyday with linking into support services in their local community. It also embedded our commitment to community.
A good start on developing some of these skills (or seeing what should be included), are two resources that are free for your staff to access, is an online course or primer
There are probably many more out there but I just wanted to whet your appetite and thinking about how you can help your staff develop these skills.
I’ll leave you with a resource prepared by doctors which explores some of the skills we need to better see and hear what clients are telling us.
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts
Images from Pixabay – with thanks