Hear from the Older People, Active Lives service team about their work to tailor their support to each individual.

The heart of the OPAL service (this link will take you away from our website) is our person-centred approach in all that we do.  For some time, we felt like we needed to refresh the way we carried out assessments with our clients. We wanted to focus less on asking a series of questions and more on listening to what people were saying, asking them about themselves and tailoring our support to their specific needs.

We invited ALLIANCE National Lead for Caring and Outreach, Tommy Whitelaw, to one of our team meetings to tell us all about Intelligent Kindness and the ‘What Matters to You’ (WMTY) approach.  We were all very moved by what we heard and knew immediately that this approach was a better fit for us. We decided to incorporate it into our day to day practice, assessment and feedback tools.

The team had also been working with an independent company, Social Lab, who helped us to look at all the services we delivered. We looked at service outputs and outcomes and drew up a logic model to see how everything we do links together and can be measured in a more streamlined way.

This information, along with the ‘What Matters to You’ approach (this link will take you away from our website) provided a framework on which to base our ongoing assessment tools.

Our first step was to revamp the assessment tool for our 1-2-1 support. We sought to make this much more about conversation and to include the WMTY approach at the centre.  In fact, the very first question we added was ‘What Matters to You?’.  We then removed the questions around physical health, mental health, disability etc. as our referral process already captures this information.  We wanted our first contact to be much more about finding out about the client, what matters to them, their interests, and what they want to achieve.

In the end we came up with a tool that has 3 questions:

  • What matters to you?
  • What are your own interests?
  • What would you like to achieve by accessing the OPAL service?

For our team, seeing the new version was initially strange as they were used to an assessment tool that was very long and time consuming.  They were excited to try the new version and see the responses.

Our next step was to get the right system to record our question responses.  We decided to use the Lamplight system, already used across the organisation, to capture this information.  Once the questions were inputted and we completed some test versions, we were good to go.

Our new tool has now launched and so far it has been a great success. The team have really enjoyed using it and feel it is a great improvement.  It allows them on their first call or home visit to find out valuable information about the person we’re potentially supporting, to work with them to find the best service we can provide them with, or if we can’t support them to find an alternative service that can.

The tool has allowed us to further develop our person-centred approach and tailor our services to the individual case.  The best part for us is hearing all about ‘what matters to you’. For example, some of the responses have been:

  • Connecting with Friends
  • Company
  • A good puzzle
  • Getting to know people
  • Reading
  • My little dog
  • Helping others when I can
  • My family

As an ever-evolving service looking to meet individual needs, we then wanted to capture what groups (both online and face-to-face) had meant for the attendees throughout the past year.

We included ‘what has this meant to you?’ questions when we carried out our evaluations with the group attendees. This allowed us to understand the impact of our groups on the people attending and plan the groups for the months ahead.

We have also added the ‘What matters to you?’ approach to our Volunteer evaluations, and we’re looking forward to hearing what our volunteers have to say.

In the coming months, our plan is to find other areas we can introduce these questions to really ensure we are capturing ‘What Matters to You” in all aspects of our work.