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Carers Trust South East Wales (CTSEW) has always had carers at the heart of our services and has strived to listen to what carers tell us they want and need, and shape our services accordingly. In my 14 years in CTSEW I’ve seen this achieved through traditional, and let’s be honest sometimes quite dry, consultation events / meetings / surveys.

While we’ve collated feedback and development ideas in the past, I think carers have suffered with ‘consultation fatigue’ and as a result have become a little disengaged in the process, I know I’m certainly guilty of that too.

We knew there must have been a better way of engaging our people in the development of our services – so it was time to try a different way of working.

 

We’re going to do what?

During late October 2021 CTSEW started working with Perago to :

  • Understand the service landscape and organisational capability to support this
  • Understand needs of service users
  • Establish effectiveness of current services in meeting that user need
  • Agree priorities for delivery of new or improved services
  • Establish the roadmap for change based on business and user need

When I initially read the above list, I just thought… we are going to do what?!

However, after a little bit of explanation and unpicking, everything started to become much clearer.

I translated the above to the following:

  • We are going to have an in depth look at what we’ve got and how good we are at using it e.g., our services, technology, relationships, communication (both internally and externally) and who does what, when and for / with whom.
  • We are going to have conversations with all different types of carers, who all have different caring experience e.g., young carers, parent carers, new carers, experienced carers who have received little to no professional support and find out what they need / want from our services.
  • Based on the above, what have we got that already works and what do we need to change to make us more effective.
  • What are we going to do in which order?
  • Make a plan and make it happen.

 

Learning a new way of doing things

This is an intense piece of work for us. It’s 6 weeks and it’s a lot to get through. But something we need to get done. We also see this as an opportunity to lead the way in terms of adopting a user centred design approach to the services we deliver – making sure carers are at the heart of everything!

Thankfully, a big part of the way Perago do things is to share the way they do things, the tools they use and involve us in each stage of the project.

It’s mad to think we’ve been working with them just over a week so far, and whilst we’ve had a lot to do in terms of discussion, planning and getting access for us all to share processes and documents, these are my 5 key reflections so far:

1 – Delivery Manager is an actual job and it’s helping a lot.

Everyone needs a James! James’ role is to keep everyone on track to make sure we do everything we set out to achieve. His planning skills are beyond and I can’t wait to spend more time with him learning all he has to offer.

2 – Kids ask “why?” so much when they are young… we stop doing it as adults…

Until I met Jess. I have a five-year-old daughter and honestly Jess asks “why?” more often than her. I have to admit, it is a talent I want to adopt. Jess has a very natural talent for getting to the bottom of why we want to do the thing we are setting out to do, why it’s important, why we should involve certain people, why we are making changes and generally asking questions that make you stop and think.

3 – We have a lot of great people.

I have always known our team is dedicated and committed, but I have to say I am very proud of how our team have got on board, welcomed the Perago team and engaged in this process. I can’t wait to see what we come up with in the next steps.

4 – Taking time for agile.

At the beginning of this process, I had heard of stand ups, working in sprints, retro meetings and agile working, but honestly thought this was corporate lingo for meetings, which I would never have a need for… as it turns out they makes a difference. Daily 15-minute stand-ups (you don’t actually have to stand up), working in sprints (again no real physical activity here but more about organising your workload into smaller packages), ‘retros’ (retrospective meetings looking back at what we have achieved and allowing us to learn from what went well / what went wrong), planning sessions, being flexible are all new to me and CTSEW, but are things I hope we will continue to use.

5 – Working in the open – especially blogging.

So full disclosure – this is my first ever blog and I have to admit, it is very much out of my comfort zone, I am quite nervous about putting it out there! However, if it helps people understand what is going on, why we are doing it – so others can get involved and it helps to improve our internal and external communications, I am on board 100%.

So that’s what I’ve learned so far. But I’m really looking forward to seeing the user research coming to life, being involved in our newly established Service Design Group that you’ll hear more about in future blogs, testing our new services with unpaid carers and getting my hands on the planning tools.

 

Happy to share

If you want to hear more about any aspect of what we’re doing, would like to get involved, or if you’d like to help us with our research, please just shout – I’d be happy to share more about this.