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Involving vulnerable people - a practical guide.

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1 Involving vulnerable people - a practical guide.
Torbay Supporting People Team. June 2008

2 CONTENTS Heading Page Introduction to involvement 4
Why involve vulnerable people? Hints to help you What can vulnerable people get involved in? 13 Hints to help you Who should be involved? Hints to help you How can vulnerable people be involved? 23 Where should involvement take place? 34

3 CONTENTS Heading Page When should vulnerable people be involved? 37
Before you start involving vulnerable people 38 At the end of a specific piece of work 40 TOOLS What’s happening in Torbay 44 Document links Good luck!

4 INTRODUCTION to involvement (1)
This guide aims to help you involve vulnerable people who receive your services. It is linked to the Torbay Supporting People (SP) Communication and Involvement Strategy. Throughout this document the term ‘vulnerable people’ or ‘vulnerable client’ refers to anyone who currently receives, may in future, or has received, an SP service. It highlights the fact that this person may have extra support needs due to their circumstances or disability. When involving vulnerable people who currently receive SP services, you should aim to focus on finding out their needs, concerns, priorities and service satisfaction levels; along with those of ex-clients, and potential future clients to gain a more rounded picture. Everyone has a unique set of needs and views. It’s your job to discover and respond to them. This guide will help you to involve vulnerable people and keep them at the heart of everything you do. This document can be made available in a range of languages, on tape, in Braille, large prints and other formats. For further information please phone

5 INTRODUCTION to involvement (2)
This guide will help you to involve people in their services by addressing the following questions; the answers to which you must be clear about in order to involve vulnerable clients. 1. Why? 2. What? 3. Who? 4. How? 5. Where? 6. When? By answering the above questions, reading about opportunities and methods for involvement in Torbay, and using the linked example documents, you should be better equipped and more confident to involve vulnerable people more effectively in your area. Although targeted at SP clients, most of the information and tips in this guide are transferable, to aid the involvement of vulnerable people in any setting.

6 WHY involve vulnerable people? (1)
Vulnerable people should be involved in their services because: The meaningful involvement of people receiving services in the planning, commissioning, monitoring and review of those services will lead to better services. Clients are an expert resource, with unequalled service experience and insight, and only with their continued and meaningful input can every aspect of SP service delivery be improved. We need to ensure that the views of vulnerable clients are taken into account, and acted upon. This can be at service or strategic levels, addressing standards, policies, priorities and budgets. The views of vulnerable, sometimes socially excluded, groups have until now often been unheard, so there is considerable work to be done in this area to discover and act upon them.

7 WHY involve vulnerable people? (2)
Improved access to training and volunteering opportunities, through supported involvement, will build the skill base of vulnerable clients, enabling them to take an increasingly active part in strategic decision making and operational work. Involvement strengthens 360º client-provider-council relationships, and promotes a culture of openness and transparency. Evidence shows that vulnerable people benefit from being meaningfully involved in their services through improved confidence levels and social activity. Increased social activity and participation of individuals, through being involved, will lead to stronger communities, social inclusion, and a sense of well-being amongst vulnerable people.

8 WHY involve vulnerable people? (3) National Indicators
The meaningful involvement of vulnerable people can also directly affect Council performance according to the following National Indicators, amongst others: 1 = % of people who believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local area. 2 = % of people who feel that they belong to their neighbourhood. 3 = Civic participation in the local area. 4 = % of people who feel that they can influence decisions in their locality. 6 = Participation in regular volunteering. 7 = Environment for a thriving third sector. 11 = Engagement in the arts. 110 = Young people’s participation in positive activities

9 WHY involve vulnerable people? (4) National Indicators
138 = Satisfaction of people over 65 with both home and neighbourhood. 139 = People over 65 who say they receive the information, assistance and support needed to exercise choice to live independently. 140 = Fair treatment by local services. 141 = Number of vulnerable people achieving independent living. 142 = Number of vulnerable people who are supported to maintain independent living. 143 = Offenders under probation supervision living in settled and suitable accommodation at the end of their order or license. 144 = Offenders under probation supervision in employment at the end of their order or license. 145 = Adults with learning disabilities in settled accommodation.

10 WHY involve vulnerable people? (5) National Indicators
146 = Adults with learning disabilities in employment. 147 = Care leavers in suitable accommodation. 148 = Care leavers in employment, education, or training. 149 = Adults in contact with secondary mental health services in settled accommodation. 150 = Adults in contact with secondary mental health services in employment. 151 = Overall employment rate. Are any of these indicators included in your Local Area Agreement? If not, should they be? Look through the full list of 198 indicators and try to spot any that we’ve missed!

11 WHY involve vulnerable people? (6)
The need to involve vulnerable people in the planning, commissioning and development of their services is now recognised, and rewarded, nationally. Torbay SP Team won Regional Champion status for ‘service user involvement’ in We offer vulnerable people who use SP services in Torbay a range of opportunities for involvement, including; - Training courses to develop skills i.e. ‘speaking out in meetings’. - Attending local, regional, and national events. - Taking an active part in the recruitment of SP staff members. - Membership of the SP Service User Group (Torbay Voice). - Membership of sector-specific strategy sub-groups. - Taking part in the commissioning process. Please see the Tools section from page 43 for more information.

12 HINTS to help you! It’s important to involve clients at the earliest possible stages of involvement! It may seem obvious but involvement itself should be planned and developed alongside the vulnerable people you will be working with. This is the best way to ensure that you are clear about the level and type of support that they will require in order to take part, and that they will get the most from being involved. As part of the planning process, clients should be made aware of the nature and frequency of the involvement opportunities on offer i.e. what will be required of them, and others (roles and responsibilities). Will they need to attend meetings / events / local service visits? Will they need to devote time weekly / monthly or as a one-off? All of this information should be decided upon, and agreed with them, at the outset. Vulnerable people who use your services should be made aware of, and understand, the purpose of their involvement, and the intended outcomes. This is vital to build and maintain enthusiasm, and give clients and staff a sense of purpose, and achievement when personal or strategic goals are reached.

13 WHAT can vulnerable people get involved in? (1)
Vulnerable people who access your services should ideally be involved in everything! Certainly at all stages of service delivery i.e. planning, design, commissioning, development and monitoring. It is vital that ‘involvers’ fully support clients to be involved, the staff to do so, and recognise that involvement is often painstaking, time consuming, and resource intensive. It is better to meaningfully include a few people in a key decision-making process than to attempt wide scale involvement without the necessary resources or expertise. Poor or tokenistic involvement will disempower those taking part and could result in them having a negative or harmful experience. This may reduce the likelihood of that person getting involved in future. If you have limited resources, choose to involve vulnerable people in work which will provide them with a clear result and sense of achievement – focus on areas where they can truly influence the future. Planning and forethought are key to involvement and will enable you to work best with your clients. Please see the Tools section from page 43 for some examples of involvement opportunities offered to Torbay SP clients.

14 WHAT can vulnerable people get involved in? (2)
Here are some ideas for ways in which you could involve people: Planning future services – you could invite clients to get involved in strategic work such as sector-specific sub groups to help you decide future priorities. Commissioning services – you could support them to play an active role in the commissioning process, such as contributing to the development of funding proposals or planning meetings. Monitoring services – you could offer them the opportunity to take part in service reviews, mystery shopping, visits, or performance management to shape the way services are delivered. Job shadowing is one way to find out whether a client enjoys the type of work carried out in a certain field. Recruitment of staff – you could support participants to take part in the interviewing and selection of candidates for both service and SP team vacancies.

15 WHAT can vulnerable people get involved in? (3)
Road testing new ideas or initiatives – ideally clients will have played a fundamental role in such innovation. If not, involving them at an early stage to discover their reaction to new initiatives is preferable to rolling them out with no input at all. Accessing other clients’ opinions or views – involvement is invaluable when devising surveys i.e. self-assessments or questionnaires. People who receive SP services can provide crucial insight into how to approach other vulnerable people, and how best to design and phrase documents and strategies to get more meaningful responses. Mentoring – you could encourage some of the more confident or experienced clients to act as mentors or buddies to any new or inexperienced ones. This can help to develop a mentoring skill-base, and overcome any confidence problems that may otherwise have caused barriers to involvement.

16 HINTS to help you! The key to involving vulnerable people is flexibility. Try to adapt your approach, and the opportunities you offer, to best suit the needs of those you wish to involve. A clear way to discover these needs is to ask your clients! Torbay Toolkit Team developed a self-assessment questionnaire to discover the needs of people who receive SP services in Torbay, in order to improve the opportunities for involvement to fit in with their preferences. Please see the Tools section from page 38 for details on the process itself, template documents, and some key findings from the pilot exercise. When asking people for information, ask them what they would like to tell you. Often, customers are asked similar questions by different organisations, and have a wealth of other opinions they would like to share, therefore open questions can be a great way to access this information. As well as sector-specific needs i.e. wheelchair-friendly locations for physically disabled, there are more general preferences that you can ascertain and try to cater for. Find out whether participants prefer to meet at a particular location, time, day, what food they prefer to eat (not everyone wants the same sandwiches weekly!) and how they would prefer to be contacted about future meetings. Such details show that you appreciate their efforts and will encourage them to continue to be involved.

17 WHO should be involved? (1)
Ideally you would involve everyone who receives or is affected by any of the services you offer. This is very unlikely because of limiting factors such as resources, high volumes of people in receipt of services, and the lack of desire of some clients to be involved. A realistic aim is to reach those vulnerable people who want to become involved, and offer them as many attractive opportunities for involvement as you can. You must have the necessary systems in place before you do this, to ensure people are properly supported from the start. A critical factor in involvement is accessing those clients who would like, and are in a position, to get involved in their services. An effective way to do this is via a self-assessment questionnaire. This can enable you to tell all of the people who are in receipt of your services about the opportunities available to them, and ask whether they would like to be involved in the future, and if so, what their preferences are i.e. meetings / events / strategic work. You can then follow up any expressions of interest, and tailor what is offered to the preferences of the majority, using this document to help you and your clients get the most from their involvement. Please also see the Tools section from page 43 for more information on the Torbay Self-Assessment tool.

18 WHO should be involved? (2) Hard to reach groups
Some vulnerable groups can be more difficult to make contact with, and may be resistant to involvement for a variety of reasons. These reasons could include lifestyle, perception, scepticism, and social barriers. These hard to reach groups can differ between regions due to demographical variations. It is important to regularly evaluate involvement in your area, to identify any groups which may not be represented. Similarly, different consultations and engagement methods may result in varying groups being hard to reach, as different sectors may be more difficult to access, need a higher level of support in order to carry out certain types of work, or not enjoy certain types of activities. One way to access to hard to reach groups is to consider which other organisations may already be working with them, and make links through these channels. Are other Council departments, the Care Trust, voluntary organisations or Probation Service already working with the groups you are finding hard to reach? It is often timely and cost-effective to approach vulnerable clients via people they already work with, and can lessen the likelihood of trust barriers being raised.

19 WHO should be involved? (3) Hard to reach groups
Initial access is often the first hurdle in the path to involving these particularly ‘hard to reach’ vulnerable groups. Be pragmatic in your approach. Try to answer the following questions, they may help you see involvement from your clients’ perspectives, and overcome some of the hurdles: Where could you reach them i.e. day centres, hostels, community centres? Should you go to them, rather than expect them to travel to a meeting or event? What is likely to encourage them to get involved i.e. a clear idea of how they and their services will benefit, a free lunch, organised childcare? May these groups be suspicious of local authorities, or perceived power? What can you do to overcome this suspicion and build trust? What would deter you from being involved if you were in their position i.e. practical problems such as physical access to venues, language difficulties, assistance for carers, transient lifestyle e.g. travellers? Can you tackle any of those deterrents? How? What steps need to be taken? How soon can you start? Who can you work with to make the process more effective i.e. other agencies / partner organisations / voluntary sector / existing community groups?

20 WHO should be involved? (4)
This guide is primarily aimed at helping you to involve vulnerable people who are currently accessing your services. However, other individuals or groups that have a stake in service delivery may also want to get involved. These could include: People who experience services indirectly i.e. carers, partners, family members, friends, visitors. Service providers. Dissatisfied ex-clients. People who are as yet unaware of the services available. People who may require a service at a later date. Other organisations i.e. voluntary, public and private sector. Residents / local people. Any of these groups, and many more, may be able to provide their views or help. You, along with your clients, need to decide whether any / which other groups should be involved in any work you plan to undertake. Please see Partnership Working below for examples and guidance.

21 WHO should be involved? (5) Partnership working
The aims of partnership working are to achieve efficiencies by cutting costs, and reducing duplication of effort and bureaucracy. Pooling and sharing resources i.e. staff hours, venues, and transport helps to promote a joint working culture and improve capacity. Partnership working enhances involvement options and often results in clients being offered opportunities they might not otherwise have had access to. Who are your partners? Consider how you could jointly fund a specific piece of work or service with: Care Trust Probation Service 3rd sector organisations Police Community Groups and as many others as you can think of. List the pros and cons for your clients, and your team – you’ll be surprised at how beneficial partnership working can be!

22 HINTS to help you! Thank people! Try not to forget that people are giving up their valuable time and energy; often overcoming difficult hurdles in order to do so. It may seem obvious - but when you are busy at work and thinking about your next job it can be easy to forget to show your appreciation. Thank you letters, certificates, or just taking time to thank everyone personally are a few options! Good communication is crucial when involving vulnerable people. You should present all information clearly, using uncomplicated language. Time must be taken to explain new concepts and pictures where thoroughly, and participants should be encouraged to ask questions and raise issues of clarity when they arise.

23 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (1)
When you know what your clients would like to get involved in, and you know who you would like to be involved, you need to work on how they can be involved. There are a range of methods you can employ; key points to remember are that everyone is different, and that flexibility is crucial when involving vulnerable people. There are, however, some demographic patterns that can inform initial decision making: The most popular methods of consultation are those where information is sent to people i.e. home based consultation. Vulnerable people tend to be more resistant to leave the home – adding weight to the need for offering incentives for involvement. People on lower incomes are less keen on getting involved, and feel ‘information poor’. Young people like focus groups, street interviews, and on-line interaction. Older people often like neighbourhood fora. Receiving feedback on previous involvement is likely to encourage people to get involved in the future; it enables them to see what differences their efforts have made.

24 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (2)
Consultation and involvement are closely linked. Involvement is more in-depth, and often a longer term commitment than a one-off consultation where views are sought on a specific topic. All techniques have strengths and weaknesses. Some are more representative than others and will provide data that can undergo statistical analysis. These are known as ‘quantitative’ methods. Others can deliver more detailed, individual information or opinions. These are called ‘qualitative’ methods. Try to mix quantitative and qualitative approaches as this will provide you with a varied set of results. Please see the Tools section from page 43 for some examples of how Torbay SP Team has involved vulnerable clients, and its plans for the future. The following pages contain information on, and examples of, some consultation and involvement methods.

25 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (3)
Some classic consultation and involvement techniques: Postal surveys often get a limited response (20% or less) but offer you the opportunity to tell give your clients information (i.e. details of future involvement opportunities) as well as asking them for their views. Focus groups can explore issues in detail from the client’s point of view. They can be great for obtaining clear opinions on specific topics. Telephone surveys can achieve quick responses, but require straightforward questions to avoid confusion. Personal interviews are often the most statistically reliable, because you are more in control of the responses you get, and can choose the people that you invite to interview. The table below shows some methods of involving and consulting people that also apply to more vulnerable people. You may want to consider trying some of these in the future; the main pros, cons, and resource implications associated with each one are rated.

26 Method Description Pros Cons Resources Participation on committees or panels Involvement in strategic decision making Real power and partnership working If facilitated by staff, potential for bias Reimbursement of expenses, time – client and staff Large scale events Short term involvement to bring together views Allows for large numbers of views, good fun Difficult to capture detailed views High – venues, refreshments, travel Client-focussed meetings Group meeting in relation to specific service area/s Groups allow discussion, can provide a steer Personal agendas can disrupt Low – expense reimbursement and payment for time Focus groups Groups set up to discuss specific issues Can provide in-depth responses on specific issues Often small numbers – views may not be representative One-off surveys – postal or telephone Accesses views in own home – can evaluate service Can access large numbers – can provide good statistical data Responses can be misinterpreted, low returns Variable – postal costs, staff time

27 Method Description Pros Cons Resources On-going surveys – postal or telephone Accesses views in own home – can evaluate services / monitor performance Shows trends over time Time consuming, participants may become complacent Varies, as above, but continual rather than one-off Public meetings Open meeting called to discuss a specific issue Invites opinions from a wide audience Can be dominated by a few – less confident may not give views Medium – venue, refreshments Suggestion boxes Allows anonymous comments to be made on paper or online Allows comments and reduces fear of retribution Low returns unless well advertised / specific questions asked Low – set up of box, staff time Electronic polling Use internet to obtain views or set up debates Good potential for live interaction / debate via PC Low returns – some clients have no access to, or unable to use, internet Low after initial set up

28 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (4)
As well as the tried and tested methods described above, there are plenty of new and innovative approaches to involvement. An effective general technique is to fit the ‘work’ around a fun activity which is an incentive that enables participants to gain more from their involvement experience and will entice them to be more engaged in the future. Give new methods a go! Be brave and design some of your own – there are always better ways to reach people. The key is to discover those that work best for the vulnerable groups in your area and, as advised in the hints section, a great way is to ask them via a self-assessment questionnaire or involvement survey. Please find some ideas for new ways to involve people below; one for each letter of the alphabet. Work with clients to come up with an alphabet ‘wish list’ of your own – it’s great fun - and work through the list to find the most realistic options to try! It is important to make it clear that it is a wish list to avoid disappointment. Please consider health and safety issues before promising or undertaking any of the more adventurous activities, and get help in doing so if necessary.

29 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (5)
Arts-based facilitation – drama workshops, art groups, and music clubs can all be used to involve vulnerable people and break down social barriers. Book clubs – can be fun for older people or physically disabled clients. Cooking clubs – fun for all ages. Dance groups – great for young people. Education – you could join up with local schools / colleges to offer courses to enable academic or vocational development. Fundraising – get clients involved in raising money for local causes. Gardening – clients can help to make their home environment better by working with their SP service provide to improve the surroundings. Housekeeping – as above. Internet / online discussion fora – great for young people. Joinery - you could join up with local schools / colleges to offer training for specific skills to aid employment opportunities. Key workers – work with them to improve client involvement within services. Line-dancing – speaks for itself! Mime - see arts-based facilitation.

30 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (6)
Needlework – a great way to relax and get to know other participants. Orienteering – you could get in touch with local groups who regularly take part in such activities – remember health and safety! Picnic – summer is a great time to hold outdoor meetings and combine them with a picnic / activities day – also cuts down on venue costs! Quality assessment – get clients involved in monitoring their own, and other, services. Rugby – either start your own team or attend local matches if you have a good local league! Sightseeing – take your clients out to a local attraction, you’d be amazed at the morale building potential of such trips. Treasure hunt – always good fun and can be tailor-made to accommodate varying abilities. Upside-down cake making! Volunteering – working for local charities is a great team builder. Walking – short walks around your local area cost nothing and can be rewarded with a coffee or lunch. Xylophone playing – X is a tricky letter! Yachting – many coastal locations have companies who offer organised trips for disabled people. Zoo trips.

31 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (7) Your responsibilities
Whatever involvement opportunities you can offer vulnerable people, there are a range of things that you MUST always do in order to succeed. Not fulfilling your responsibilities will demoralise your participants, and lose their interest and commitment. It is your duty to ensure that everything is in place before the process begins. Planning and preparation are essential to achieve meaningful involvement. Factors such as: - realistic resource allocation (staff hours, expenses, materials) - location accessibility - transport - breaks and refreshments - purpose of involvement and intended outcomes - reimbursement policy - contingencies amongst others, must be organised / agreed with participants well in advance. Effective communication is a common stumbling block when dealing with vulnerable people, so make sure you get it right! Some essentials include:

32 HOW can vulnerable people be involved? (8) Your responsibilities
- clear, accessible information - simple language, no jargon, large font, multiple languages and formats, Braille - pre-meetings to give confidence and support to participants - defined roles and responsibilities - agreed commitment level i.e. length, frequency, and type of meeting - confirmation of involvement details - regular updates all of which will give participants confidence in you and your organisation, and help them to overcome the obstacles that often inhibit involvement. Follow up such as feeding back information to clients on outcomes of involvement, is a proven necessity of engagement, and makes future involvement much more likely. Everyone likes to know how their hard work has improved things so do your participants the courtesy of telling them! Gratitude is especially important to let participants know that their work is appreciated by you personally as well as by your organisation. A simple thank you can boost morale, and is the least that participants deserve. Thank you letters, certificates or gifts are great to acknowledge more in-depth pieces of work and are well worth the time spent arranging them.

33 Can you stretch your resources by being imaginative when arranging:
HINTS to help you Be realistic about the resources you will need to devote to carrying out effective, meaningful, involvement. Be clear that true involvement must be fluid, and it’s timescales subject to change, due to it’s nature. You must support your staff, as well as participants, by acknowledging that involvement done well is often time-consuming and unpredictable. If in doubt, over-estimate staff and financial costs to avoid problems down the line. Can you stretch your resources by being imaginative when arranging: - venue? - joint working? - catering? - activities? - commissioning?

34 Where should involvement take place? (1)
Involvement can take place anywhere – on the street, at a surgery, in a café, at the beach, in a supermarket. As long as you are talking and listening to vulnerable clients in order to inform and improve your service delivery, then you are on the right track. Involvement can be planned or unplanned – you’ll be surprised how often you bump into your clients once you get a regular group established. For organised meetings or events, there are some standard places for involvement that you may or may not have considered. Do you have access to: - Offices in your building? - Council venues? - Local colleges / training centres? - Local attractions? - Outdoors? - Community / youth centres? - Places of worship? - National / regional / local events? As already mentioned, flexibility is crucial to involvement. Finding vulnerable people and taking opportunities to them – wherever that may be - is the key to success!

35 Where should involvement take place? (2)
Vulnerable people often require special arrangements in order to be involved. You need to think about factors such as: Getting there… Clear directions. Good local transport links. Suitable location (town centre / rural?). Clear signage to venue. The venue itself… ‘Welcoming’ venue i.e. not intimidating or overly officious. Helpful staff. Easy to navigate. Minimal stairs or hills. Wheelchair accessible. Hand rails. Continued overleaf…

36 Where should involvement take place? (3)
The venue itself (continued)… Car parking facilities. Smoking areas. Crèche. Disabled access toilets near to the room(s) you are using. Adequate fire and safety systems including risk assessments, fire marshals, first aiders etc. You won’t always be able to fulfil all of these requirements, but aim to cover as many as possible. It is your responsibility to make participants as comfortable as possible while they work with you, and achieving as many as possible of the above will encourage them to return. Consult the suggested venues on page 34 to begin with, and cross-check against the lists on this and the previous page to discover which offer the best facilities and are good enough to accommodate your participants.

37 When should vulnerable people be involved? (1)
As much as possible! Meaningful involvement of vulnerable clients will enhance the services you provide, your participants’ quality of life, and your job satisfaction. Ideally, clients would be involved in every aspect of your work, although this unlikely for a variety of reasons such as resources, high volumes of people in receipt of services, and the lack of desire of some of them to become involved. As a result it is important to carefully prioritise opportunities for involvement. Choose pieces of work that will provide those involved with clear evidence that their involvement has had an impact, such as during key decision making, recruitment and selection of staff members, and event organisation. The ‘best’ time to involve people who receive an SP service is as much as possible throughout the life of a process or service. They should play a part in planning and development - the earlier their expertise is drawn upon the better. See pages 14 and 15 for examples of how clients can get involved in the monitoring and review of services. The worst time to involve people is only at the end of a process. This appears tokenistic, and even if it is with the best intentions it is not conducive to confidence in the involvement process, or your Council’s commitment to it. Do not underestimate the people who receive SP services. If you follow the suggestions on how you can involve your clients in order to make involvement more accessible, then there should be no reason why they can’t get involved in top level work or decision making.

38 Before you start involving vulnerable people (1)
Use this checklist to help you ensure that those being involved know: Who is being involved and why. The level, frequency and type of involvement. The purpose and aims of their involvement i.e. what decisions will be influenced. Their roles and responsibilities and those of others. Who will have the final say / take the decisions. How the results of their involvement will be fed back to them. Anonymity will be respected if agreed. Who they can contact about the involvement i.e. if they are unhappy or need more support. That they are not obliged to take part – it is their choice. If / how they will be financially rewarded for their involvement That you are grateful they plan to be involved and will support them.

39 Before you start involving vulnerable people (2)
Use this checklist to help you ensure that you have defined your own responsibilities (please see pages 31 and 32 for some specific examples). Have you: Planned every aspect including resources, communication, access and requirements, timescales, intended outcomes, contingencies? Used plain English and not jargon? Worked out who your hard to reach groups are, and got a plan in place to involve them? Received ethical approval where necessary? Constructed a definitive list of who to involve and made sure you haven’t forgotten anyone? Liaised with other departments, organisations or sectors to establish any opportunities for joint working, and minimised duplication? Selected the most appropriate methods of involvement?

40 At the end of a specific piece of work (1)
Research has consistently shown that what goes on afterwards is vital to the involvement experience, and will encourage repeat engagement. Ensure that you have fed information about what’s happened as a result of the process back to those involved. Be realistic about the amount and type of resources it will take to analyse and process the information that has come from your clients. It is easy to underestimate the number of staff hours required, and to do so will result in either reduced quality work, or demoralised workers. You will probably need to adopt or adapt processes to achieve quality and service improvements based on what you have discovered through involving your vulnerable clients. Keep records of how your clients’ input has informed decision making to evidence the value of involvement for both clients, and future budget decisions.

41 At the end of a specific piece of work (2)
Evaluate the involvement method, and the process itself. Ask yourself the following questions, amongst others! General Are there things you would change next time? What really worked? What could you improve upon? Was there conflict? How could this be resolved in future? Did you utilise all the opportunities for joint working? Was any part of the process innovative? Could it have been? What were the main lessons learned? How can you develop your involvement techniques for next time?

42 At the end of a specific piece of work (3)
Did all the participants understand the objectives? Did the methods allow you to achieve the objectives? Did you receive representative views? Did you adhere to planned timescales? Was everything accessible – communication, location? What were the costs – time, money? What has changed as a result of the process? Has this been transparent? Have you recorded details of the involvement, and its evaluation ? Answering these questions will help you learn what methods work best to achieve different outcomes and develop the involvement opportunities you can offer vulnerable people in the future.

43 TOOLS! This section contains brief descriptions of involvement methods used in Torbay, our plans for the future, and links to related documents.

44 What’s happening in Torbay (1)
Torbay Voice. Torbay Voice is a group of people who receive SP services and meet roughly every two months, along with some members of the Torbay SP Team. The aims of the group are to give Torbay SP clients a voice, influence all stages of SP service delivery, take part in training and skill development, and review policies and procedures. Torbay Voice initially held successful fora to encourage new membership and advertise the group, and developed terms of reference and job descriptions for members. Members have more recently visited SP services in Torbay, taken part in varied training courses and the recruitment of SP staff members, and helped to produce their own newsletter. A Torbay client currently chairs, and helps to circulate meeting agendas and minutes to the group, from the SP office. Plans for the group include more training opportunities, events organisation and participation, involvement in recruitment and selection, the monitoring and review of services, and much more!

45 What’s happening in Torbay (2)
Core Strategy Group. The Core Strategy Group was set up to shape the direction and priorities for the SP programme in Torbay. Membership included people who were in receipt of SP services, representatives from Torbay Council, Devon and Cornwall Probation Service, Torbay Care Trust, Devon Partnership Trust and Torbay SP Team members. The group was soon devolved into sector-specific Strategy Sub Groups – please find more information below.

46 What’s happening in Torbay (3)
Strategy Sub Groups. These sector-specific Strategy Sub Groups were devolved from the Core Strategy Group. Members include SP clients (who feed information back to Torbay Voice and vice versa), representatives from service providers, referral agencies, and other stakeholders in the SP programme. The aim of each sub group is to address the priorities for the client group it represents e.g. older people, physically disabled, people with mental health problems. Each Strategy Sub Group has recently produced a strategy to outline its proposals and priorities for future SP services, including an accessible audio CD version for clients with learning disabilities. Strategy Sub Groups will continue to shape and develop the services to best suit their sector’s needs, and support people who currently receive services to attend the groups by meeting them beforehand and ensuring that all information is clear, and easy to understand.

47 What’s happening in Torbay (4)
Regional Champions! Torbay SP Team was awarded Regional Champion status in 2007, alongside Bolton SP Team, to acknowledge it’s success in involving vulnerable people in the delivery and development of the services they receive. The award was given by the Department of Communities and Local Government, and enabled a worker to be employed for one year to develop client involvement across all SP sectors in Torbay. Achievements during the first six months of the Regional Champions work include the instigation and facilitation of a Toolkit Team, development of a Client Involvement Self-Assessment tool, organisation and hosting of a national event (please see the following pages for more information), and the production of this guide! Future work will focus on peer-focussed initiatives, the development and integration of involvement methods across Torbay, and independent advocacy.

48 What’s happening in Torbay (5)
Toolkit Team. Torbay Voice members were offered the opportunity to join the Regional Champions worker to form a Toolkit Team. A small team was set up and met fortnightly. The main aims of the Toolkit Team were to work on a toolkit on ‘best practice in service user involvement’ with Bolton SP Team, develop and pilot a self-assessment tool, and work on the involvement of vulnerable clients in processes such as commissioning and business planning. The Toolkit Team produced an involvement self-assessment tool, and piloted it by sending it to nearly 200 clients from a variety of sectors and services across Torbay (please see the following page for more information). The team also organised and hosted a client-oriented event to celebrate good practice in involvement, attended by nearly 100 SP clients, staff members and service providers from across the country. People receiving SP services will continue to be involved through small outcome-targeted groups, focussing on involvement in strategic processes such as Local Area Agreements, business planning and commissioning.

49 What’s happening in Torbay (6)
Self-assessment. Torbay Toolkit Team developed and piloted a self-assessment questionnaire, which was then built upon to create a more in-depth tool (please see the Torbay Service User Involvement Self-Assessment in the links section on page 57). The aim of the self-assessment is to enable people who receive SP services to evaluate and provide information on their levels of involvement both in their SP Team, and service itself. Their level of involvement is measured according to how well it meets their desire to be involved. The questionnaire was sent to nearly 200 clients from a variety of sectors and services across Torbay. Visits were made to each service manager / worker involved, and clearly worded letters explaining the process and its importance were sent to each client, support worker and service manager who took part. Over 70 responses were received, and some key information was discovered such as: 61% of people receiving SP services in Torbay would like to be referred to as a ‘client’. Only 7% would choose the term ‘service user’. Over 50% of clients would like to be more involved with Torbay SP Team. 48% of Torbay SP clients would like to be involved in choosing and planning SP services. It is hoped that a full survey of all Torbay SP clients will take place in the future.

50 What’s happening in Torbay (7)
Recruitment. Some Torbay SP clients have been involved in the recruitment and selection of SP staff members. The aim is to use the expertise and service experience of the person receiving a service in order to choose the most appropriate person for the post, whilst building their own skill base. Example. The Regional Champions post, mentioned on page 47, was filled following a recruitment process that involved vulnerable people at every stage i.e. job description, main duties, person specification and requirements, interview and selection. The candidates were asked to give a presentation, the title of which was decided by Torbay Voice, to an audience mainly consisting of Torbay SP clients. The audience marked each candidate against set criteria, and the total scores were calculated. The candidate was also formally interviewed by a SP staff panel, and the scores from the two sessions were combined, and given equal weighting, to determine the most suitable candidate.

51 What’s happening in Torbay (8)
Partnership Working. Torbay SP Team works with it’s partners, Torbay Care Trust and the Devon and Cornwall Probation Service to achieve efficiencies by jointly commissioning and funding where possible. The aims of partnership working are to achieve efficiencies by cutting costs, and reducing duplication of effort and bureaucracy. Pooling and sharing resources i.e. staff hours, venues, and transport helps to promote a joint working culture and improve capacity. Joint funding of services and staff posts already takes place in Torbay. Partnership working enhances involvement options and often results in clients being offered opportunities they might not otherwise have had access to. Future partnership working plans include joint commissioning of training, workers and services e.g. arts-based facilitation and advocacy – please see page 53 for more information.

52 What’s happening in Torbay (9)
Training. Torbay Voice members have been offered, and undertaken, a variety of training courses including: Speaking up at meetings. Making meetings effective. Training on how to become a chair person. Outside speakers visiting the meetings. The aim is to build a skill base amongst the vulnerable people accessing Torbay SP services, enabling them to be better involved in the delivery of those services, and increasing their opportunities as future volunteers / employees. Torbay SP Team liaises with trainers before and throughout training programmes. A key factor is accessibility – the range of client groups and abilities means it is imperative that course content is accessible to everyone on the course. An experienced staff member knows the clients and often spends significant time with the trainer in preparation for the training. Plans for training courses in Torbay include ‘confidence building’ and ‘service reviewing’, please see the following page for more information.

53 What’s happening in Torbay (10)
Innovation. Two new, innovative involvement methods are in the early stages of development, please find details below. Mystery shopping – drama. Drama will be used to empower clients and enable them to become ‘mystery shoppers’. A voluntary organisation with vast experience in working with vulnerable groups, is working with Torbay SP staff to develop a comprehensive set of drama workshops to help increase clients’ confidence, support them to create the criteria against which evaluation will take place, and embed the skills required for mystery shopping. The mystery shoppers will present themselves as new clients to frontline Council departments, and services, and evaluate the service they receive against set criteria. This will be a rolling process, and part of performance management structures – the results of the mystery shopping will eventually be used to target client-led training for Council staff. Arts-based facilitation, such as drama, is widely recognised as being effective in engaging and empowering vulnerable people of all abilities, and the outcomes of this pilot are anticipated with much enthusiasm by Local Authorities nationally, and partner organisations in Torbay.

54 What’s happening in Torbay (11)
Innovation continued. Service reviews. The second process being developed is client service review. Training, by a voluntary sector organisation, will be given to some Torbay SP clients to enable them to undertake performance reviews of local SP services through talking to clients. The reviewers will ask questions about the service, to find out how well the service is meeting it’s contractual requirements, and involving people who access the services. Criteria will be devised by SP clients and trainers, using the Quality Assessment Framework and other measurable outcome sets. The results of both the service reviews, and the mystery shopping will be used to inform contract monitoring and performance management, and to identify training requirements for Council staff, and service providers.

55 What’s happening in Torbay (12)
Local, regional and national events. Regular SP events take place in Torbay, and offer clients and staff the opportunity to take part in planning, organisation and hosting. Events help to raise the profile of the SP programme and services, and provide fora for networking and relationship building across and within sectors. Example. An event was held in April 2008 to celebrate good practice in involvement. Delegates included a Communities and Local Government representative, and SP clients, team members, and service providers from across the country. Torbay clients were instrumental in planning, organising and hosting the event. They designed the invitation, registered delegates, took part in presentations and drama shows, hosted a Who Wants to be a Millionaire Quiz, and much more. The event was a great success, and Torbay SP Team received lots of positive feedback from those who attended, and even people who didn’t but had heard about it! Future events are planned, with a toolkit launch planned for autumn 2008 so watch this space!

56 What’s happening in Torbay (13)
Cross-authority work. Torbay SP Team members are involved in cross authority groups such as the South West Regional Implementation Group, and the South West Officers Group. These mixed authority meetings allow sharing of opinions, plans, and ideas for future work. A new piece of cross authority work is underway in Devon, called the REACH 2 advocacy project. Devon County Council, Torbay Council, people with learning disabilities who use SP services, service providers, carers and a host organisation will be involved. The aim is to develop a service to empower and employ adults with learning disabilities to audit their supported living services against REACH 2 standards, and become accredited through doing so. The project will cover four main areas in Devon – Teignbridge, Exeter, South Hams and Torbay. The initial project is expected to last for two years, and will develop a skills base in people with learning disabilities who use the services, improve learning disability SP services in the four areas mentioned above, and strengthen cross authority relationships.

57 Document links Please find links to:
- Torbay Voice Terms of Reference. - Torbay Voice member job description. - Torbay Voice leaflet. - Torbay Voice example minutes. - Guidance – ‘making meetings easier to understand’. - Good Practice Event agenda. - Good Practice Event report. - Torbay Supporting People Communication and Involvement Strategy. - Torbay Service User Involvement Self-Assessment (Involvement Triangle and Questionnaire). - Good Practice Website –

58 Email:
Good luck! We hope you have enjoyed using this guide and that it helps you to involve your vulnerable clients in the future. Good luck! Please feel free to contact us to discuss any of these issues in more detail: Phone:

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