For Partnership

Further to a shared vision every partnership needs to have an agreement about what they are hoping to achieve together. For funding and to evidence effectiveness the partnership will want to show clear measureable outcomes. From the collective impact approach a ‘shared measurement’ ensures consistency and accountability of all members.

From the person-centred perspective the outcomes should be related to improvement of services so that people being supported can achieve their goals. Partnership achievements need to firstly be related to client aspirations. Secondly, achievements to be measured must be agreed upon by the partnership members. While this is usually the remit of those with strategic elements to their role, it is important from the person-centred view that all members of partnership including practitioner and client advocates are consulted about what achievements are important to them and about what is realistic to measure.

Similarly to the practice approach, measurement of achievements can also have innovate solutions. There are measurement tools such as the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) which can track achievements of goals that the person or family have set for themselves (Sharp and Read, p31).

Lean Thinking applied to the community services context:

‘Lean Thinking’ is a business methodology that aims to provide a new way to think about human activity to deliver more benefits to society and value to individuals while eliminating waste. Whilst lean thinking was conceptualised to increase productivity within a manufacturing context, it can adapted to be used within the community services sector for the benefit of the people being supported. Lean thinking can be applied, for example, to an intake process, as trialed by the Loddon Services Connect partnership where there was one intake worker who liaised with the key workers and the clients. In comparison to quantitative information from program intake previous to the pilot, the number of practitioners who were coming into contact with the client file, the hours worked, the steps clients needed to take to get a service and the financial cost to the agency were all reduced in the new access model. Lean thinking was also used in this partnership to encourage key worker flexibility to make referrals and complete assessments in ways which significantly decreased their paper work. Through agencies in the partnership collaborating with each other the key workers were also able to provide primary and secondary consults to decreased their research into services and the cold calls they would normally make.

For the person

Agreed achievements are also the person-centred aspiration in light of direct service provision. As previously reflected, the system, with its piecemeal funding, often unwittingly dictates for people the goals they are supposed to achieve when accessing support.

In the manner of the ‘collaboration’ of Motivational Interviewing the goals of the support must be defined by the person or family being supported. It is important to recognise that often people don’t talk about what they need in terms of goals and that it can take time for someone to believe that they can truly direct their own care. There is also the fear that an authentically client led experience will result in unrealistic or unsafe goals. A person-centred perspective believes that people will want to make changes in a way that is good for them. If the voiced goal appears unsafe or unrealistic it is a collaborative effort with a good practitioner that will curiously explore what the person is hoping to achieve, which can uncover the achievable step towards the person’s true need.

A story about person led practice

In the Southern Melbourne Services Connect Partnership a vital success was the autonomy workers felt to be creative in their work in alignment to the partnership principle of ‘person-centred’ approach. One worker was supporting a woman recently arrived to Australia as a refugee and picked up of signs of this woman being subjected to family violence in her home. The worker had extensive family violence experience and talked to the woman about what she noticed. The woman was adamant that she did not wish to talk about or be supported in relation to the family violence. The woman asked to learn how to cook meals for her family. The worker felt supported by her organisation and the partnership to approach her work differently and decided, contrary to her usual practice, to honour the woman’s goal of learning to cook as the focus of their work together. In doing so, the woman and her worker built a wonderful rapport whilst cooking together. The woman begun to talk about her family life and the violence she experienced. In her discussions she talked about ways to keep herself safe. The worker said that she had been scared to go along with the goal of cooking without pushing her own agenda on the woman. She found what emerged from this brave change in practice, rather than any potential risk to the family, was the woman gaining a sense of control over her own support journey and mastering her own resources. With her experience the worker would have been able to mitigate risk regardless and she felt that had she pushed her family violence agenda as the goal of the work, the woman would have started to hide things from her worker. Instead, having gained feelings of safety and trust her worker the woman was able to make changes to keep her family safe on her own terms.