Workshop 2: 25th July

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
The other group came up with suggestions like:
  • 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).
We talked about how we could share this information with people and how we could make something physical that would convey some of these ideas. The groups came up with a few ideas that people seemed really keen on:
  • 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
(we’ll have a few examples of maps available in a future post – very soon)

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.

Reflections…

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.

Workshop 1: 18th July

Monday’s asset mapping session brought together people using services and practitioners, to collect and collate local knowledge in and around Kirkintilloch, on the subject of well-being and positive mental health. We were really keen to ensure that the workshop brought together a range of people on an equal footing so that they could share and learn from one another.

We had a great turnout with 7 people who use services and 8 practitioners from services such as health improvement, peer support, occupational therapy, social work, the Richmond Fellowship, Ceartas (Advocacy), Connections and Carer’s Link coming along.

What we did

The session lasted for 4 hours (with lunch). We split into 2 groups and thought about the little things that we all do everyday that help to keep us well.

The types of activities that people identified included:

  • having contact with groups of friends and a support network
  • cycling in good weather (including keeping yourself organised for this and getting everything packed)
  • dog walking (for someone to talk to, who doesn’t answer back)
  • walking by the canal and expanding your routes
  • setting up breakfast dishes the night before – so that the day is easy to step into
  • going to the gym (helps with energy levels)
  • running (with people) – good for you, but you might feel the benefit more afterwards
  • having some music playing to gradually get you into the swing of things in the morning (a soundtrack to your activity levels)
  • having a local, regular place to go to meet people who are going through similar experiences
  • gardening and looking at flowers – can be really therapeutic to take some time to yourself (in the summer).
We shared this with each other and thought about any similarities and differences.
We were able to pick out different themes from the range of activities people talked about. These were:
  • social – having contact with others
  • physical – keeping busy by doing things
  • senses – thinking outside of yourself and being aware of how things look, sound, smell etc.
Mapping community assets
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We all then looked at a range of different objects, photographs and leaflets that represented current service provision locally.
We identified the assets in the community that could be useful to encourage positive mental well-being. Some of these included:
  • Seagull Trust barges (and the canal) – feels like you’re in another world!
  • Church – good place to meet people and have some space to think
  • Citizens advice – very professional service
  • Ceartas – lots of positivity around this service
  • Charity shops – places where its easy to talk to others, great for volunteering
  • Food co-op – highly visible, good produce and good place to see volunteering in action
  • Ghilloni’s – much love and admiration for this place
  • Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre – good that it is all under one roof, but some things about it could be better.
We also thought about those that were not so positive.
  • transport – really difficult to get around east Dunbartonshire which makes it hard to get groups together. Dial-a-bus is also difficult to organise
  • out-of-hours services were not viewed favourably
  • planning meetings – it can be really difficult to get your voice heard, even though people do make an effort to make you feel welcome.
  • costs of services
  • there are not many day activities available – something that gives your day structure would be good
As a group, we shared our experiences of some of these services.
This helped us get a picture of what living in the local community is like for people and gave everyone an opportunity to discuss the assets that could be used more, and those that might need some improvements to be used more often.
We then considered how the personal things that we do every day to keep well could be supported by the assets we had identified in the community. This was quite difficult to do in the time available and due to the fact that people were very keen to talk more about their current experiences. This is something that we will focus more on in the next workshop.
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Ideas
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The afternoon session focused on developing ideas for the sorts of things that might help support positive mental health and well-being within the local area.
We focused on the following issues:
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Meaningful engagement (planning meetings)
  • it may be necessary to have a pre-meeting to prepare
  • feedback the whole way through the process is vital
  • it should be open, honest and be true engagement
  • advertise meetings well, so that people know what to expect
  • ensure there are lots of ways for people to gather views i.e. through the post, online, in person, social media etc.
  • get rid of the jargon
  • use advocates to assist this process as much as possible.
More activities for older people
  • is over 60 the right bracket any more?
  • need to ensure people know how to access services
  • bus passes should continue
  • need to think about what is happening locally for older people (and how this links into national policies)
Central venue for meeting people
  • a central venue that people can access
  • gives people things to do, as well as developing skills and meeting others
  • a useful way to help people move on to other things
  • a community venue would be good
  • could charge a minimum amount to cover costs
Feedback for family carers
  • to have a meeting once a month to go over any problems which may arise (at the moment there is only one way to make enquiries, and it is often unavailable)
  • meetings could be advertised in local shops or libraries
  • a newsletter would be really good.
Support for those returning to work
One of the groups focused on this topic as a key issue throughout the workshop session.
  • very important to have continuity throughout the process – the same mentor and the same method of communication
  • softening of the environment so that you can take part in different types of conversations
  • one-to-one emotional support once a week is important
  • something to keep you occupied so that you are not worrying before an appointment
  • literature currently focused on absence, misconduct and discipline rather than health and well-being. It is important to ensure that the tone and language used in the paperwork is softened (as well as reducing the volume of correspondence!)
  • a back-to-work mentor is particularly useful for follow-up meetings and conversations.
What people thought of the workshop
At the end of the session, we handed out some evaluation forms to ask people what they thought of the workshop, and also to ask what we could do better next time.
Some of the things people found good about the session included: they felt safe and able to share, it was a relaxed atmosphere, they had been really inspired, it was good to get a chance to learn new tools for engagement, it was a good way to meet and share with other people and it was a good way to talk about some of the really good people and services, and to applaud them for the good work that they do.
do.
Some of the things that people did not think were so good about this session included: people would have liked to have more time for introductions (so they knew more about who was in the room), it could be difficult to raise an issue about a service when those providing the service were in the room, there were not enough breaks and that using the word ‘improvement’ implies that there is something wrong with what is currently being offered.
offered.
So, for the next session, we will make sure that there is an opportunity for people to feedback sensitive views in an anonymous way and will make more time for people to talk to one another and find out who everyone is (as well as move around a bit more!). We will also focus more on how the identified assets can be used to plug any gaps in service provision, rather than focusing on the services specifically.
specifically.
The next session will build on what we learned on Monday and we’ll think in greater detail about how we can encourage people to use the assets that we’ve identified in the community better.
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Reflections
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Some of my thoughts from the first workshop…
Many wider issues around service provision and engagement came to the fore at the first workshop, with people taking the opportunity to voice what has been concerning them most. What was really good about that, was having the chance to talk these through and to come up with some potential ideas that may resolve the issues. One of the aims of the project is to flatten any knowledge hierarchies so that the views and ideas that are expressed are considered as equally valuable. The ideas that we came up with will provide really useful recommendations for consideration.
consideration.
Having so much knowledge and experience in the room; be it experiential, service related or process related means that there are boundless opportunities to share and learn from one another. In itself, this is a huge asset, but it also brings with it some challenges around managing different perspectives and expectations about what can be done to promote well-being and positive mental health within the confines of this project.
project.
What is possible in the project, is to work together on how we can better use the positive assets identified and to consider how these can be shared with others who may not be involved in the project directly, so that they can use them too.
All comments welcome!