Our second workshop took place on the 25th July – a bright and sunny Monday – in Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre.
It was great to see so many people at the workshop – some familiar faces, and lots of new ones too. In the end, we had 22 people coming along to share their experiences and ideas (this was a split of 13 people who use services and 10 people who support those who use services) which was a fabulous turnout – even if it was a bit of a tight squeeze!
What we did
This week, we worked on tasks that encouraged people to share their experiences and that enabled us to gather ideas about how people could be better supported to use community supports and assets.
We started by getting to know each other. There were lots of new faces in the group and it was good to find out a bit about where everyone was from and what their interests were.
We then split into two groups and worked on answering the question: ‘if someone new to the area was to ask you advice for keeping well, what 5 things would you tell them?’
One group looked at this in quite a general way and were able to give lots of practical advice that included:
- taking things a step at a time. the group agreed that it can be sometimes difficult to think about doing simple things, like taking a shower. The advice was to take it step by step and think about smaller aspects of the activity – like taking the first step out of bed, opening the door etc.
- trying to keep active – going for walks and knowing good places to get out and about can be really helpful
- knowing that you’re ‘not the only one’ can help, and knowing that everyone needs support sometimes
- keeping focused on one task or goal for each day – and getting it done – can feel like a great achievement
- reminding yourself of all of the things that you’ve achieved that day and focusing on those things rather than what you haven’t achieved can boost feeling well
- knowing where to start – having someone or something to point you in the (next) best direction on your journey is very beneficial (signposts to what is available)
- having someone to talk to – ‘i use them as a sounding board, a mirror. I like to have the same people to contact to go back to time and again’ (people you can rely on)
- find a place to go and chill out – where you can get peace and quiet (this group were able to identify lots of places on the map that would be useful for this)
- do the little things that matter e.g. one person was very keen to keep their house tidy and as long as that was done she felt a sense of achievement. Find out what your ‘thing’ is.
- having chance meetings – you might think that you want to be alone, but you might actually enjoy bumping into people. There are lots of cafes in Kirkintilloch that make wee 5 min chats with people easy – you can just pass pleasantries and you don’t have to plan the meeting (so you don’t need to cancel if you’re having a bad day).
- prompt cards: small cards (that you can keep in your wallet) with words and phrases by people with lived experience of mental ill health for those currently experiencing it
- paper maps of the area that identify key services
We then went on to build on top of the maps that we’d produced in the first workshop.
The groups were keen to add additional services outside of Kirkintilloch – stretching out to Bishopbriggs, Milngavie, and Bearsden. Many people highlighted the poor transport links between these different towns and how this can make access to services incredibly difficult.
Other assets that had not been previously identified included:
- public partnership forum – have your voice heard
- local carers centres
- aromatherapy (through EDAMH) – helps relaxation
- contact point – at the park centre, useful resource
- different walking routes
- the Kirkintilloch players (theatre company)
- community addictions team
- EDICT – painting is brilliant!
- Carer’s Link – a rich source of support
- Denise’s cafe – friendly staff and good for bumping into people
- Kirkintilloch Herald
- The badminton group
The groups also highlighted areas for improvement, including things that were missing within the community.
One of the groups talked in depth about assessment of need and the type and amount of information that is held about people using mental health services. Many people were aware of WRAP (Wellness and Recovery Action Planning) but not many had completed one. The group were quite clear that making a plan, and being assessed should not be a tick-box exercise and that it should be based on the individual and should be made to suit individual needs. The group also talked about how making advance statements was a useful thing to do, but not many had completed these either.
Many people highlighted the lack of social day activities within the area. People referred to the old Clubhouse and were clear that some of the functions that it had provided were really useful (see previous post). A few people talked about how there were many open spaces available and that an affordable cinema could be a good place to go and meet people, and that they could be used for big events like ‘ mental health awareness week’ or ‘gala day’ etc.
Community assets: think of a heavenly experience…
We asked the groups to work on creating a storyboard of the different areas that could improve and how the experience could be better – we did this from two different perspectives
- Heaven: no barriers or hurdles/success and
- Hell: barriers, hurdles and complications
People tended to draw on their own experiences of services or to focus on the different types of social activities that they perceived are missing within the community. The ideas focused on:
- Being listened to more: people being allowed more time to talk and explain themselves, and to be seen as an individual.
- Communication between the supporting services (health and community care professionals) and carers
- Having a place to go where people understand you – where you can choose to talk about issues, or not – depending on how you are feeling
- A drop in centre that is inclusive, allowing people access to a range of different services – like a hub
What should we do with all this information?
A key aspect of the project is to ensure that what we are learning is shared with others and is used to help improve existing service delivery. In addition, we want to ensure that the learning is used by people who use services – so that they can better see what is available and better direct their own support.
We were keen to ask the groups their views on how the outputs of the project should be shared.
Almost all of the participants thought that it would be crucial to share the project findings amongst the mental health service providers in the area. This was part of a broader discussion that highlighted that more could be done to ensure these agencies communicate better with one another – especially linking health, social work and voluntary agencies together.
Key, was also ensuring that the information was easy to access and always kept up to date – there has been some trouble with this in the past. In addition, people were keen that as well as online based information, that there be a physical counterpart that people can keep with them to refer to.
We learned a lot from the last workshop and made sure that there were plenty of breaks – to keep ourselves refreshed and alert, as well as making sure there were lots of different ways for people to have their say. Ways to provide feedback ranged from speaking out into the group, posting thoughts and comments in the post box anonymously, as well as being provided with email, phone and contact information for people who prefer to reflect on their experience and to share afterwards.
The evaluation sheets were overwhelmingly positive from the day. Everyone who provided a completed sheet mentioned how much they had enjoyed the session with the following comments being made:
‘very interesting and thought provoking look at services and what helps people stay well’
‘the ‘holistic approach’ to what you were doing was really good – not just focused on services, but taking the whole aspect of folks lives into account’
‘enjoyed the contact with people with similar lived life experiences’
‘enjoyed the information sharing and mapping all the positives in the east dun area’
‘I’ve left feeling like I could do some research into what’s available and what would benefit my situation’
‘I felt really good getting feedback from the group and meeting other service users’
The next session will focus on different ways to share and portray the information that has been accumulated over the past few sessions. We expect to gather insights into the sorts of things that people think should be mapped for our online visualisation. In addition, we’ll be helping individuals to think about how they could use assets outlined in the community map to help promote their personal well-being.
I’m also learning lots about how the asset mapping process can be a useful tool for engagement with people – particularly how it can provide an opportunity for people to take a step back, think about what works well and why (and what does not) and consider how we can work with each other differently to change for the better.
This seems to be one of the things that people seem to be valuing most about being involved in the project. It seems to be getting more and more difficult for people to take the space and time to listen to one another and really hear what is being said – both practitioners and people who use services have commented on the value of hearing peoples stories and coming together to think about how things might change.
And there is more to come!
As always, any comments are very welcome.