Change is a coming

“The rate of change in the business world is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up over the next few decades. Enterprises everywhere will be presented with even more terrible hazards and wonderful opportunities, driven by the globalization of the economy along with related technological and social trends”

Quote taken from Kotter (1996) Leading Change

Last week saw the culmination of a project that I have been involved with for almost two years now. The project, SDS360, focused on the process of change required to support the move to self-directed support in adult social care.

Self-directed support, or SDS, is central to personalisation, the government’s vision for adult social care. Personalisation, as you may have guessed from it’s name, focuses on the provision of a more personal support service than traditional social services have provided. There are four key elements to personalisation: universal services, early intervention and prevention, social capital and a focus on choice and control. So ultimately, SDS is about people having control over the support they need so they can live their life as they choose.

When we started the project two years ago, the vision for personalisation had recently been outlined in Putting People First (DH 2007) and Transforming Adult Social Care (DH 2008). The targets set seemed a long way off with local authorities expected to have made significant changes by April 2011.

Several things were clear to us at the start of the project:

  • the policy landscape was changing
  • the evidence base was new, with research projects and evaluations being few and far between, with the exception of IBSEN which was underway in several areas
  • local authorities were all approaching personalisation in their own idiosyncratic way
  • staff were experiencing a range of emotions, mostly confusion, some abject fear, and nearly all with a sprinkling of hope and enthusiasm along the way.

What was, and is, clear to anyone involved in adult social care is that the move to this new way of working requires a significant shift change. Indeed the TASC document cited above, clearly stated the challenge as follows:

It is essentially about a significant cultural shift and management of change

So rather than wait for the policy makers to settle down and decide what was happening, or sit back and wait for the evidence base to emerge, we decided to conduct a Change Project, SDS360. This project combined what we knew from change theory, with the emerging evidence around personalisation, and the experiences of service users and staff involved with adult social care. We produced a resource, that was piloted, refined and last week published alongside an accompanying website.

Changecards are built on the ten emotions that people told us they most commonly felt about the change. These emotions can be arranged on a spectrum ranging from excited, positive, enthusiastic, hopeful, challenged, uncertain, confused, anxious, overwhelmed through to frustrated. Each emotion has four types of cards linked to it:

  • change theory – validates feelings by linking them to models of change
  • evidence – uses evidence to show how others have experienced change
  • reflection – gives examples to encourage reflection and discussion
  • action – gives ideas for what helps and what you might do.

The cards are designed so that they can be used alone or in a group, we wanted a resource that anyone could relate to, wherever they personally were in the process of change. We know from talking to people that irrespective of how well your service, department or authority are doing with the move to self-directed support, change poses challenges to us all. The cards were designed to relate to self-directed support but we feel that they could be adapted for use with any change process.

The cards are now available for purchase (they’re a bargain at £20 + postage and packing) from the changecards website. I really hope that this is just the beginning for this resource, I’m optimistic that we can build a community of users who can feed in their experiences of change, their reflections on self-directed support, and their actions of what helped. We are planning to devise a trainer pack of resources and are collating ideas of how people would use the cards. I hope that the ‘wonderful opportunities’ that Kotter talked of will emerge from this resource, I hope that by combining a tangible resource, with a web platform and the power of social networks, we can support this resource to keep growing and in turn supporting people to make progress through their journey of change.

I have been delighted with the responses and support we’ve had so far, most heartening was sitting with some members of the original development group last week and seeing their responses and enthusiasm for the website and the cards. I always find it nerve racking when I’ve been working on something for so long and I don’t know how anyone else will find it, whether they’ll see it’s potential, whether they’ll use it, whether we’ve have done their thoughts and ideas justice.

I am proud of this resource, I love the accompanying website, and ultimately if they help just one person with the changes they are facing, or support one person to achieve their outcomes or access a better service, then it’s good enough for me. As ever, I’d love your feedback and ideas so please do get in touch either with me here or over on twitter, either at @georgejulian or @changecards.

ps Thank you to @fergusbisset for the website, @redjotter for helping with facilitating the piloting, @rich_w for the support and encouragement, and @antlerboy for being the first person to buy a pack!

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2 thoughts on “Change is a coming

  1. The cards look really great. It’s really exciting to see the influence design can have to improve things and make a difference outside its own dicipline. How did you decide on the idea of cards? What other option did you explore to reach your users? At the moment I’m looking into more engaging ways of presenting an academic framework so that it is actually useful. You seem have hit the nail on the head here congrats!

    Nic 🙂

  2. Hey Nic,

    I love the cards and the website :-D. There is a lot of information behind the development of the cards and we needed a design that communicated simply and clearly the key points. I’m hoping that the cards will be used in a range of settings – including by social workers working with those they are discussing support with, so for example as a prompt when talking with someone with a learning disability, so we needed them to be straight forward and the design definitely helps them.

    In terms of their development – we gave participants an almost blank slate to tell us what would be of most use to them in their workplace; ‘almost’ because we didn’t have a blank cheque so there were some restraints in place. What came over loud and clear was that they *didn’t want* another book, or another report, or another printed document that would just be put on the shelf. We originally produced playing cards based on emotions but when we piloted people were sceptical about the playing nature of it, they felt there was a risk that they wouldn’t be taken seriously. Having said that they loved the cards, they wanted something they could use individually, in pairs or in small groups, and they wanted something they could carry around with them. As pleased as we all are with them – the proof of the pudding will be in how they are used in practice; so watch this space.

    ps I have a million ideas for how to communicate academic work in hopefully engaging ways – that’s what we’re all about – so let us know how you get on.

    pps It’ll probably come as no surprise to you that my original idea (before the playing cards) was that we produced a set of recipe cards…maybe next time 😉

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