Bringing Together What We Know About Effective Working Together in Adult Support and Protection

Kathryn Mackay (University of Stirling) and Beth Cross (UWS) have produced a briefing paper pulling together what we know so far about effective working together in Adult Support and Protection.

Briefing paper for improving involvement in ASP

The purpose of this briefing is to inform further work service users and practitioners will be doing together to develop new ways and tools to support a person’s participation should they need the help to work through the harm they are facing.

Get in touch... We would like to hear about other examples from across Scotland of effectively working together in Adult Support and Protection.  Kathryn and Beth are happy to update this briefing  paper to include other developments if they are contacted before the end of April 2013. Please leave a comment here and we will get back to you shortly.

Getting to know each other and sharing ideas: Report on sharing workshop

Those involved in the project met for the first time on Friday 25 January, often fighting their way through snow to reach Stirling University.  The aims of the day were:

  • Getting to know each other
  • Share experiences and ideas

The day involved a mix of group activities and informal inputs about co-production and talking mats.  We also had some time at the end with the project teams to talk through their plans for improving practice.

Session 1. What’s in the bag?

We started the day with a group exercise – “what’s in the bag”.  We picked items out of a bag to help us talk together about the assumptions we were bringing to the project. Some of the objects we pulled out and discussed were:

  • Spaghetti measurer:  We talked about how the size of the team doesn’t matter
  • Ailen goo: Like an egg or new life it can start very small but grow, also once you crack the egg its out there…
  • Dr who sonic screwdriver: Sometimes in research you find the answers in surprising places
  • Scuba diving: You can be overwhelmed by the wealth of material and it can be difficult to see at the bottom.  Concerned that there won’t be anything tangible from the project but sure if we go on a journey together we’ll work it out.  Everything about scuba diving is counter-intuitive, as can co-production.
  • Measuring tape: We as a group can decide what needs to be measured and how to do it.  Need to think about progress and how things build on each other.  All of us each have different measuring sticks and part of the project is to share where we’re at.
  • Watch: Time is limited and people are at different stages, need to be mindful of the time we have available to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed.

We then discussed what wasn’t in the bag that it was important to include, we discussed how something flexible would help to emphasis the importance of flexibility, which is essential for co-production.


Session 2. Co-production exploration (Andy Millar, Angela Henderson & Angela Halpin)

We heard from Andy Millar, Angela Henderson, Angela Halpin from SCLD about their experiences of co-production and the lessons they’ve learnt.   Angela Halpin explained that “Co-production means working as a team”.  They explained that if co-production is working you see a shift in power and it’s clear it’s working “when it feels like a family”.  They explained that in a co-production group it is important that it’s the same people to build trust and relationships, as Angela explained it worked well because “We all started together and learnt each others feelings”.  People involved in the co-production groups often have a capacity building plan to support their involvement, there was interest in the group in seeing examples of these plans.

The presenters explained their Top tips for co-production:

  • Involve people early
  • Discover and use people’s gifts
  • Help people to develop new skills
  • Make sure here is enough time and money to do it properly
  • Celebrate what you have achieved
  • Think about what you have done – learn from it

They also discussed the importance of capturing all views, prioritising focus through doing work beforehand to project plan.  An important aspect to co-production working is around having shared goals and shared values.


Session 3. Talking mats: Adult support and protection (Lois Cameron)

Lois Cameron from Talking mats talked about a consultancy project funded by the Scottish Government to make the Adult support and protection accessible to people with communication difficulties.   The project involved providing training and producing a pack to accompany the training.

Improving understanding about the Adult Support and Protection Act is a challenge because all the terms within it are defined in relation to each other, such as harm and risk.  It presented challenges around how Talking Mats could produce symbols for these concepts.

Another challenge related to the issue of time raised in the previous session.  Lois also explored how the process of tendering often limits the involvement of people with communication issues, with money being committed to doing something within tight timescales.

One way Talking Mats reduced the impact of timescales in their project on adult support and protection was to create an advisory group for the work, so it wasn’t co-production but it did allow for the involvement of people with communication difficulties.  But this was a compromise for them!

The advisory group consisted of 8 people, four people had a learning disability and four people had had a stroke.  They worked together to support each other and people learnt from each other.  One of the issues the group were tasked with working through was how to produce a symbol to express vulnerability.  The image was of someone in a wheelchair on a platform with a ramp on one side and steps on the other.

The key thing to making something accessible is finding a structure on which to hang the information.  The structure they created for the training was:

  • Understanding the adult support and protection act
  • Using the adult support and protection act
  • What it means for me

It can be helpful to think about metaphors that really work, and which speak on an emotional level.  For instance, the symbol for risk involves crocodiles in water with a person walking across a tightrope, the same image is then repeated with them walking across a bridge, indicating the reduced risk when supports are in place.   Obviously, this symbol won’t work for anyone who has not heard the crocodile story.

They designed the workshops and trained 11 people to deliver the workshops.  They also trained advisory group members about how to give feedback, they gave feedback to the workshop leaders.  Everyone found the idea of getting feedback challenging but one of the most useful things.

Of the 43 people who attended the workshops only 1 had heard of the Adult Support and Protection Act beforehand.

The workshops were produced in pairs because the potential for disclosure during the sessions was high.

It because obvious that some of the advisory group members became expert in the Adult Support and Protection Act.  Lois explained that she hoped that the advisory group members would be able to go on to deliver the training, but support would need to be provided to allow this and at present the relevant funding has not been provided.

We then talked about the value of people with communication difficulties providing training on these issues.  Angela Halpin talked about her role in the Good Life Group which is a group of people with learning disabilities who have provided a range of training, various video clips about the group are available here:


Session 4. Ideas for the projects

The locality teams spent some time with the project team discussing their initial ideas for the projects they wished to develop.  These ideas included:

  • Leaflet explaining the process – what adult support and protection is, the steps and what happens along the way.
  • Different ways of communicating information
  • Training materials

Kathryn and Beth will be providing support to the teams individually to further develop these ideas.