At Hestia, we are exploring how we can embed the principles of co-production and recovery into the ethos and day to day working of our organisation. In doing so, rather than being an "optional extra", across all of our services at Hestia these ideas become a core aspect of our support model.
To achieve this, we have developed our Wellbeing and Empowerment Programme. The core aim of this programme is to bring our staff, volunteers and service users together and help them all to think differently and creatively about what “support” should look like.
A core part of this programme is the Wellbeing and Empowerment Toolkit. Produced with input from our service users, this toolkit provides interactive sessions on universal themes such as wellbeing, self-esteem, relationships and personal development. The colourful and easy-to-use toolkit enables these sessions to be facilitated by, and participated in, by all those within a service.
Each session takes the facilitators through every activity step by step, and includes various handouts and tools which will be used along the way.
While the toolkit is created to make it simple for anybody to use, we also encourage those taking part to be creative with the programme, adding their own twists to these sessions, or even creating their own! These will then be fed-back to our team and incorporated into the toolkit, creating a living breathing document, which will act as a showcase of best practice and innovation from across our organisation.
As additional encouragement and to support the up-take of the programme and this toolkit, we have launched a grants scheme whereby services can apply for small pots of money of up to £150 to fund activities linked to the delivery of this programme. For example, one successful application has recently been submitted to create a "memory garden" as a shared project between staff and residents. Projects like these are fantastic and embody the spirit of the programme – bringing together ideas and energy of staff and service users to create an outcome that benefits all. This case of the Memory Garden is a wonderful physical output which will be a huge benefit to all.
Working within, and building on, existing practices
Rather than replacing existing models, Hestia’s Wellbeing and Empowerment programme seeks to compliment and work alongside current one-to-one support sessions and relationships. However, by shifting the focus of support more towards collaborative group-work, and away from traditional key working, we will be able to achieve several key outcomes:
Creating a co-productive space: This is a space where professionals and beneficiaries can discuss ideas collaboratively and creatively. In doing so, this will move away from the staff vs service user relationship and help forge stronger relationships from which both parties can fully benefit. This practice will also help remove unhelpful barriers, such as professional power, which can prove detrimental to aiding people's recovery.
Providing opportunities for people using our services: By actively involving service users in the programme delivery through co-facilitating and contributing to sessions has been proven to build self-esteem. Already we see that in time, inclusion in the development of the programme and the pilot sessions has empowered staff, volunteers and service users to take on new roles and responsibilities within a service.
Group work, shared experiences and relieving staff pressure: Running group sessions provides a new and innovative way of working between staff and service users. The creation of safe spaces with groups with similar lived experiences has shown to help our service users to open up and enhance their relationships with each other and staff members. Working in a collaborative method is also hugely effective for building the self-esteem of the individuals involved and tackling isolation (which a lot of our SUs currently experience). Group work is also hugely beneficial to our staff who are then able to create deeper and understanding relationships with a larger number of service users in an environment of limited staffing hours.
Where we are now
The co-production team at Hestia are currently in the process of rolling out the pilot scheme for this programme through a collection of co-facilitated taster sessions. Each of these sessions will finish with a full peer evaluation to allow reflectiveness and embed co-production and will feed into a report on the effectiveness of this new way of working.
We look forward to sharing the results with you in the near future!